A Florida federal judge has refused to delay an upcoming bellwether trial in sprawling multidistrict litigation over allegedly faulty combat earplugs, saying 3M should be ready to face a new plaintiff after another dropped his case.
U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers rejected 3M’s argument that the company would “suffer significant prejudice” if it was forced to face a Sept. 20 trial in a suit by the new plaintiff, Brandon Adkins, who claims he suffered hearing loss and bilateral tinnitus while using 3M’s combat earplugs.
Another case, brought by Joseph Taylor, who made similar claims to Adkins’, was set to go to trial on the same date and serve as the fourth bellwether, but Taylor voluntarily dismissed his claims.
Despite the late change, 3M should be prepared to face Adkins’ case. Adkins and Taylor have maintained the same pretrial schedule and discovery and deposition deadlines.
3M asked the court to fill Taylor’s slot with claims by Michelle Blum — who is suing for similar reasons and whose case is set for trial on Oct. 18 — a proceeding for which the company says it was prepared. It asked that Adkins be pushed back to October.
But Judge Rodgers disagreed and said 3M should have guessed that the Adkins case would go forward.
3M said the Taylor dismissal was the fourth time plaintiffs had voluntarily dropped their suits. In a statement sent to Law360, 3M said that Taylor’s “sudden dismissal” shows how weak cases against the company are.
So far 3M has faced three trials, two of which resulted in six-figure jury verdicts for the plaintiffs.