The Florida federal judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation over allegedly defective 3M earplugs that harmed service members’ hearing dismissed claims brought by 20,000 veterans who failed to submit proof that they had served.
U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers said that the MDL has been pending for more than three years and, during that time, all veterans who wore the Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 earplugs during their service have been on notice that filing proof that they served in the military is “a fundamental” requirement in pursuing their claims.
Judge Rodgers dismissed the claims without prejudice. Active-duty plaintiffs and non-veterans have until June 6 to file a motion to reopen their cases, along with a statement about the status of their military service.
The MDL, consolidated in 2019, includes more than 280,000 service members and others alleging hearing damage as a result of using 3M’s CAEv2 earplugs, which they say were defective.
3M has argued that service members were allowed to flood the administrative docket with unvetted claims.
However, the judge has disputed 3M’s argument that a lack of filing fees and other filing requirements have allowed the administrative docket to be filled with frivolous claims. In an April order, she shut down 3M’s bid for an order to make more than 180,000 plaintiffs immediately pay filing fees, saying the fees were never waived, and there is no feasible way to accelerate payments as 3M requested.
So far, there have been 15 bellwether trials in the litigation, with six wins for 3M and nine for plaintiffs. The most recent trial ended with a $2.2 million verdict on April 29 to Jonathan Vaughn, who served a tour of duty in Iraq and has been using a hearing aid since 2012.
Judge Rogers has also ordered the parties to prepare nearly 1,000 cases for trial this year,