After the first phase of the 3M military earplug test trials concluded, with juries returning $300 million in awards for 13 plaintiffs in 10 of the 16 trials, the federal judge overseeing the litigation has ordered attorneys for 3M to meet with plaintiff representation to begin mediation talks by next month.
U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers, who is overseeing what has become the largest mass tort in multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the nation’s history, involving nearly 300,000 plaintiffs, issued the order June 10, in the hopes of relieving clogged district courts.
In the second phase of 3M earplug litigation, 500 cases would be tried at one time. Each of the 94 district courts in the U.S. would then have to try an average of 2,500 cases.
Plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against 3M, over the company’s Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 (CAEv2), mostly former U.S. military veterans who served in the Iraq and/or Afghanistan wars, have suffered hearing damage in the form of hearing loss or tinnitus, allegedly sustained by a design defect in the earplugs that were sold to the military from 2003 until 2015. Approximately 3 million veterans received disability payments for either hearing loss or tinnitus in 2017.
In an attempt to have a settlement reached, Judge Rodgers ordered the parties to begin mediation talks by July 15.
“At this stage, there can be no reasonable dispute that the litigants in this MDL have more data points about individual claims, and the broader whole, than any other litigants in the country,” Judge Rodgers wrote, according to Law360.com.