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3M loses bid to dodge October bellwether trial in earplug mega MDL

  • Statute of limitations argument ought to go to jury, says choose
  • Five extra bellwether trials set for November and December

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(Reuters) – An upcoming bellwether case over claims that 3M Co’s Combat Arms earplugs have been faulty and led to listening to harm for U.S. army personnel who used them can go to trial as scheduled subsequent month, a federal choose has dominated.

U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers in Pensacola, Florida on Monday denied 3M’s movement for abstract judgment in a lawsuit introduced by Michelle Blum, who served within the U.S. Army Reserves, National Guard and Army between 1989 and 2009, rejecting the corporate’s arguments that her claims have been time-barred.

Blum’s case is about to go to trial on Oct. 18, following one other bellwether trial set for Sept. 20.

“We look forward to the next bellwether trial next month, and plan to hold 3M fully accountable for the damage they have caused to those who served our nation,” plaintiffs’ attorneys Bryan Aylstock of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz; Shelley Hutson of Clark, Love & Hutson; and Christopher Seeger of Seeger Weiss mentioned in a joint assertion.

“We are confident in our case and are prepared to vigorously defend ourselves in all upcoming trials,” 3M spokesperson Fanna Haile-Selassie mentioned in an e-mail. The firm is represented by attorneys at Kirkland & Ellis together with Hariklia Karis, Nick Wasdin and Mark Nomellini.

3M is dealing with greater than 240,000 claims over the earplugs, referred to as Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2, which have been normal subject for a lot of U.S. army service members between 2003 and 2015. The overwhelming majority of these are consolidated earlier than Rodgers within the largest multidistrict litigation in historical past.

Three bellwether trials have already been held, certainly one of which resulted in a $7.1 million verdict for 3 plaintiffs and one other in a $1.7 million verdict for a single plaintiff, although the jury discovered 3M solely 62% liable within the latter case. 3M was cleared of legal responsibility within the third.

In transferring for abstract judgment in opposition to Blum, 3M argued that lots of her claims, introduced underneath New York legislation, have been barred by the state’s three- or four-year limitation intervals as a result of she sustained listening to harm in 2009 or earlier however didn’t carry her claims till 2019.

Rodgers, nevertheless, wrote that 3M couldn’t depend on the statute of limitations as a result of it was as much as the jury to resolve whether or not the corporate had hid defects within the earplugs, stopping Blum from bringing well timed claims.

The choose mentioned there was “ample record evidence from which a jury could find that defendants affirmatively misrepresented information” concerning the earplugs to the army and to troopers.

The ruling got here after Rodgers on Friday scheduled 5 additional bellwether trials in November and December, every involving a single plaintiff. Four can be tried by different judges in Rodgers’ district, the Northern District of Florida, and a fifth can be tried in Pensacola by a choose from the Northern District of Alabama.

Rodgers is presiding over the September and October bellwether trials, in addition to one other bellwether set for January involving three plaintiffs.

The case is In re 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, No. 19-md-2885.

For the plaintiffs: Bryan Aylstock of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz; Shelley Hutson of Clark, Love & Hutson; and Christopher Seeger of Seeger Weiss

For 3M: Hariklia Karis, Nick Wasdin and Mark Nomellini of Kirkland & Ellis

Brendan Pierson

Brendan Pierson reviews on product legal responsibility litigation and on all areas of well being care legislation. He may be reached at [email protected]

REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi