Over the past two years, juries have found in favor of Plaintiffs 13 times and granted awards ranging from $1 Million to $110 Million to the Plaintiffs. With over 200,000 Plaintiffs waiting in the wings, 3M and the other Defendants are desperate to limit their exposure in this litigation. 3M settled with the Department of Defense over its deceptiveness and hiding the defective design of the earplugs from the DOD. Juries have repeatedly found clear-cut liability related to the manufacturing, sale, and distribution of the defective dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs. Among the many tactics attempted to avoid liability, the subsidiary Defendants tried filing bankruptcy claiming that the companies were insolvent. However, the bankruptcy judge determined that because 3M agreed to bankroll any liability assigned through the bankruptcy court, the bankruptcy was dismissed and those five defendants were kicked back to the MDL Court. Now the only option these Defendants have is to try and limit the number of claims against them by stopping any future suits from being filed against them and getting rid of as many existing suits as they can.
Recently, 3M and the other Defendants have advised the Court and Plaintiffs’ counsel that they intend to file motions seeking to enforce the Statute of Limitations (the time in which a Plaintiff has to file a suit) on these lawsuits based on an issue of Stars and Stripes (4 years old) that contained an article discussing the defective ear plugs and the damage they did to service members’ hearing. The Defendants will argue that this article put everyone on notice of the potential harm caused to them by the earplugs. They will also argue that the notice created by the article started the clock on the time anyone who had not yet filed suit to file and that anyone who went past the deadline (in most states it is two years) should either not be eligible to file suit or have the suit they filed dismissed.
Any 3M motion addressing the Statute of Limitations could be a catalyst for Judge Rodgers to close the door on any new cases being filed into this mass litigation. If that happens, anyone who has not yet filed suit would be forced to go after 3M on their own and bear the whole cost of litigation (gathering documents, depositions, and expert testimony) and still be forced to fight this Statute of Limitations fight. It would be far better to get your lawsuit on file now and join with the over 200,000 claimants to fight this together.