An upcoming bellwether case over claims that 3M Co’s Combat Arms earplugs were defective and led to hearing damage for U.S. military personnel who used them can go to trial as scheduled next month, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers in Pensacola, Florida denied 3M’s motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit brought by Michelle Blum, who served in the U.S. Army Reserves, National Guard and Army between 1989 and 2009, rejecting the company’s arguments that her claims were time-barred.
3M is facing more than 240,000 claims over the earplugs, known as Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2, which were standard issue for many U.S. military service members between 2003 and 2015. The vast majority of those are consolidated before Rodgers in the largest multidistrict litigation in history.
Three bellwether trials have already been held, one of which resulted in a $7.1 million verdict for three plaintiffs and another in a $1.7 million verdict for a single plaintiff, though the jury found 3M only 62% liable in the latter case. 3M was cleared of liability in the third.
The ruling came after Rodgers scheduled five further bellwether trials in November and December, each involving a single plaintiff.