The judge overseeing the nation’s largest multidistrict litigation (MDL) denied 3M’s bid to have over 180,000 Combat Arms Earplug version 2 (CAEv2) plaintiffs immediately pay filing fees for their hearing loss claims, reported

Judge Casey Rogers’ order suggested that it was difficult to ascertain what 3M was hoping to achieve in filing the April 12 motion. Imposing a fee on CAEv2 plaintiffs would not have trimmed the number of pending claims, implied Judge Rogers, who wrote the order the day after 3M’s motion was filed. 

“Defendants offer only a fallacy — namely, that absent the administrative docket, they would be facing a small fraction of the claims now pending in the MDL, and requiring immediate payment of all filing fees would winnow the inventory to a trivial size," Judge Rodgers wrote. "The absurdity of that proposition is self-evident, and it is not borne out by the numbers."

3M had argued that a court decision that waived the administrative docket’s $402 per claim filing fee has ballooned the number of defective earplug claims. Judge Rogers rejected that argument, suggesting that plaintiffs’ claims could not proceed without paying the appropriate fees when their cases were moved to the active docket. 

Rogers stated that all plaintiffs on the administrative docket, which now includes 265,000 individual claims, will have either paid the fee and moved to the active docket or been removed from the MDL. Additionally, Judge Rogers noted that there is no feasible way to accomplish 3M’s request even if it did serve a legal purpose.

Judge Rogers has ordered thousands of earplug cases to be moved to the active docket to prepare for trial. On average, approximately 25,000 pending cases are ordered to the active docket. Plaintiffs must pay filing fees as soon as their case is assigned to the active docket. No payment deadline for filing fees has been given to the 180,000 plaintiffs with cases not yet assigned to the active docket.  

Over 288,000 individuals, mostly U.S. military veterans, have filed suit against 3M, alleging that a design defect in CAEv2 caused them to develop hearing loss or tinnitus during their time spent serving in the military.