Two U.S. military veterans filed separate motions and arguments that seek to prevent 3M from resolving the nation’s largest mass tort in U.S. history, Combat Arms Earplug version 2 (CAEv2) litigation, through Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Judge Casey Rodgers has presided over the 16 bellwether trials and is overseeing the approximately 288,000 claims consolidated in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Pensacola. He was asked in a motion filed August 4 by veteran Guy Cupit to block 3M "from arguing it bears anything but full liability" for the alleged injuries Cupit and other veterans have suffered, Reuters reported.
Cupit’s motion was filed one day after another veteran, Richard Valle, asked Judge Rodgers to prevent 3M from taking any legal action to stop future earplug claims. Cupit, Valle, and other plaintiffs in the 3M MDL have alleged that while they served in the military, the CAEv2 earplugs failed to properly protect their hearing and caused them to develop hearing loss or tinnitus.
3M announced July 26 that its subunit, Aearo Technologies, which originally manufactured the allegedly defective Combat Arms military-issued earplugs, was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 3M also announced the same day that it was establishing a $1 billion settlement trust to resolve all defective earplug claims.
In the 16 bellwether trials that have taken place, 13 plaintiffs in 10 trials have been awarded $300 million in damages by juries. 3M has been cleared of liability by juries in the remaining six trials. If 3M’s bankruptcy plan is approved, each veteran who has filed a claim would be awarded less than $4,000 to treat their lifelong hearing conditions. By contrast, in one successful bellwether trial alone, two veterans were awarded $110 million.
Aearo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection just days after mediation talks between 3M and plaintiffs failed. A bankruptcy judge in Indiana is expected to issue a ruling on Aearo’s bankruptcy proceedings before the end of August.