3M Earplug Jury Trials Remain Stayed, Pending Eleventh Circuit Ruling: Judge

Judge Rodgers said the Court will continue to rule on Daubert and dispositive motions in the first wave of cases set to be remanded for trial while waiting for the results of the appeal.

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all 3M earplug lawsuits indicates that jury trials in the litigation will remain on hold, even after a bankruptcy filing by the manufacturer’s Aearo Technologiies subsidiary was rejected earlier this month, since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has yet to rule on a petition for interlocutory review of a separate sanctions order issued by the Court, which could have a far-reaching impact on the claims as they go before juries nationwide.

The litigation includes more than 255,000 lawsuits filed by U.S. military veterans, who were left with permanent hearing loss and tinnitus due to alleged design defects with 3M Combat Arms earplugs, which were standard military issue for all service members between 2003 and 2015.

Plaintiffs claim that 3M Company and it’s Aearo Technologies subsidiary knew the earplugs failed to properly seal the ear canal, yet continued to sell their product to the U.S. government, causing service members to be left without adequate ear protectors during combat and training exercises.

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Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuits

Military service members between 2003 and 2015 may be eligible for a 3M earplug lawsuit payout over hearing damage or tinnitus. Find out if you may be eligible for a hearing loss settlement.

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Given common questions of fact and law raised in the litigation, all claims brought throughout the federal court system have been centralized for the past three and a half years before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers in the Northern District of Florida, as part of an MDL or multidistrict litigation.

Following a series of massive damage awards returned by juries in early cases that went to trial in the MDL, the manufacturer decided to pursue a controversial 3M earplug lawsuit bankruptcy plan last year, attempting to put it’s fully owned subsidiary Aearo Technologies into bankruptcy, even though 3M is a multi-billion dollar parent company that is well funded and directly profited from sale of the earplugs for years.

3M Earplug Bankrupcty Stay Lifted, But Trials Remain on Hold

On June 9, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffrey Graham issued an order dismissing 3M’s Aearo bankruptcy filing, after determining that the subsidiary was not in any real financial distress to warrant bankruptcy at this time. The company immediately filed an appeal to overturn the earplug bankruptcy decision, but an automatic stay on all litigation triggered by the original filing has terminated, allowing litigation to resume against Aearo in the MDL.

Late last week, Judge Rodgers issued an order (PDF) on June 14, noting that a separate stay on discovery and federal trials in the MDL remains in effect, pending a ruling by the Eleventh Circuit on 3M’s petition for an interlocutory review of her successor liability sanctions order.

The sanctions order was imposed late last year, preventing 3M Company from attempting to avoid liability by shifting blame to its Aearo subsidiary when the cases are remanded for trial. However, Judge Rodgers granted a stay on the MDL proceedings while 3M pursued an immediate appeal of the ruling.

In late May, Judge Rodgers indicated that additional 3M earplug bellwether trials will soon get underway, with a group of five cases identified that will be returned to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida as soon as the current stay is lifted. In addition, another 36 cases have been identified which will be transferred to at least 17 different federal courts shortly after the first group is sent back to Florida.

While plaintiffs will have to wait a bit longer before trials get underway again, Judge Rodgers did indicate that the Court will rule on pending motions to lift the stay in 13 specific cases, and continue to rule on pretrial motions in cases prioritized for remand after the stay is lifted.

June 2023 3M Earplug Settlement Update

The bankruptcy judge’s decision to reject the Aearo Technologies’ filing is likely to put further pressure on 3M in ongoing settlement negotiations, which Judge Rodgers ordered to continue in early May after suggesting that 3M has engaged in a “brazen abuse of the litigation process”.

The scheduling of additional 3M earplug trials in U.S. District Courts nationwide will further increase pressure on the manufacturer to establish a settlement framework or plan to address the massive liability it may face from individual juries.

Prior estimates had suggested the company would need to pay more than ten billion to settle the earplug lawsuits during early mediations. However, unless the Aearo bankruptcy dismissal is overturned on appeal, the average cost of 3M earplug settlement protections are likely to increase dramatically.


  • ThomasJune 23, 2023 at 2:48 pm

    I used em in 2003-2004 then we were told to use different ones then out to the end of 05. Deceitful company

  • DinaJune 22, 2023 at 11:23 am

    I am one of those veterans that served from Desert Storm, Desert Sheild, OIF 1 and 2. My hearing is junk and the ringing in my ears are nonstop. I trusted my PPE to work. 3M is paying their lawyers 4+ million per week??? Why not put that money aside for us vets?

  • JasonJune 22, 2023 at 5:53 am

    Further concerning for 3M is that the cash cow, polyurethane earplug, is going away, taken over by sustainable, biobased earplugs. There will be no way to regain market share in hearing protection products.

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