Last week the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered over 640 cases involving 3M’s allegedly defective Dual Ended Combat Arms earplugs to be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida for coordination by the Honorable Judge M. Casey Rodgers. According to allegations, 3M supplied those earplugs to the military from 2003 to 2015. The alleged defective design made the earplugs ineffective in preventing injuries against which they were intended to protect: hearing loss caused by loud gunshots and explosions from military combat.
Under federal law, the U.S. Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation has the authority to coordinate the management of multiple lawsuits which share common issues of fact and law under the purview of a single district court. This relieves the court system from the stress of handling multiple lawsuits on the same or similar issue by letting one federal court make decisions and orders on matters of discovery and other preliminary matters, thus conserving judicial resources.
Sarah S. Vance, Chair for the Panel, wrote, “All action involve common factual questions arising out of allegations that defendants’ Combat Arms earplug were defective, causing plaintiffs to develop hearing loss and/or tinnitus. Issues concerning the design, testing, sale, and marketing of the Combat Arms earplugs are common to all actions.”
Both the defendant, 3M, and the multiple plaintiffs agreed that coordination in one federal district would be beneficial. However, the parties had not agreed on which district should manage the litigation. In its order, the Panel selected the Northern District of Florida to manage the more than 640 lawsuits currently spread across over 30 federal districts and all future cases filed in federal court.
In support of its decision, the Panel wrote, “Centralization in this district allows the Panel to assign this nationwide litigation to a forum with the necessary judicial resources and expertise to manage this litigation efficiently and in a manner convenient for the parties and witnesses.”
The Honorable Margaret Catharine Rodgers is a federal judge who presides over the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The Panel noted that “Judge M. Casey Rodgers, to whom we assign these proceedings, is an able jurist with experience in presiding over a large products liability MDL. We are confident that she will steer these proceedings on a prudent course.”
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If you served in the military between 2003 and 2015 and suffered from tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears), you might qualify for legal recompense if you used 3M Dual Ended Combat Arms earplugs. At Wilson Law, P.A., we proudly represent the interests of military service members and their families to help make sure they have a chance at getting justice for their wrongfully or negligently inflicted injuries.