Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) May 28, 2019 - A federal judicial panel has decided that more than 640 pending lawsuits accusing 3M Company of knowingly providing defective combat earplugs to the U.S. military will be consolidated in the Northern District of Florida. The earplugs allegedly caused hundreds of service members to suffer hearing problems.
Veterans and other service members alleged that 3M’s dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs had a defective design that failed to adequately protect their hearing during combat and weapons training. The flaw caused them to experience hearing loss and high-pitched ringing in the ears, a condition called tinnitus.
“Veterans relied on the earplugs to keep their hearing safe from the loud noises they are often exposed to during military service,” commented Florida veterans lawyer David W. Magann. “They had a reasonable expectation that the devices were doing what they were supposed to rather than harming their hearing. The affected service members deserve compensation for 3M’s mistake and failure to adequately warn them of the defects.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs has identified tinnitus as the most common disability among veterans. More than 2.7 million individuals receive benefits for the hearing condition.
The lawsuits follow a July 2018 settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and 3M over allegations that the company sold earplugs with hazardous design problems to the military from 2003 to 2015. The faulty earplugs exposed more than 800,000 service members to hearing damage. 3M agreed to a $9.1 million settlement to resolve the lawsuit. However, the company did not admit liability.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation selected Judge Margaret Casey Rodgers of the Northern District of Florida to preside over the multidistrict federal cases and accommodate the national scope of the lawsuits. Rodgers is also a military veteran.
The panel said that centralizing the lawsuits in one court would be convenient for all parties involved and facilitate efficient litigation. The cases involve common issues including the testing, design, marketing and sale of the earplugs. 3M originally sought for the lawsuits to be consolidated in Minnesota, where the manufacturing company is headquartered.
David W. Magann, P.A.
156 W. Robertson St.
Brandon, FL 33511
Call: (813) 657-9175
4012 Gunn Highway #165
Tampa, Florida 33618