A federal judge has defended her decision to stay the wave and transfer process of 3M earplug lawsuits amid “vilification” by 3M attorneys, according to Law360. U.S. District Court Judge M. Casey Rodgers has called the comments leveled at her “nothing more than overzealous and deceptive public posturing.”
In her eight-page order, Judge Rodgers notes that “much vitriol” has been directed at her for a number of “supposed failings” in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) between 3M and hundreds of thousands of military veterans. Judge Rodgers has overseen the consolidation of cases since it began in April 2019. The plaintiffs allege that 3M and its subsidiary – Aearo Technologies – knowingly sold defective earplugs to the U.S. military, resulting in the auditory injury of hundreds of thousands of soldiers.
Judge Rodgers defended the MDL process as “beyond legitimate reproach.” Judge Rodgers also noted 3M’s hypocrisy in criticizing the bellwether trial selection process since both sides agreed that bellwether proceedings were “important and necessary” to evaluating the merits of the cases, claims, jury responses and verdict valuations.
Furthermore, the process of choosing cases was a “collaboration and consensus” between the parties and the Court as a whole including using a neutral third party, BrownGreer PLC, to sample cases that fairly represented the plaintiffs’ branch of service, age and injury.
Judge Rodgers outlined how the bellwether process was not “broken” as 3M had publicly stated. There were 16 different bellwether trials, representing 19 plaintiffs and delivering 19 distinct verdicts. Furthermore, the cases were heard by 10 different judges from across the 11th Circuit, and the juries were drawn from three separate divisions of the Northern District of Florida.
In her order, Judge Rodgers wrote, “One side or the other may be unhappy with certain results, or with the uncomfortable lessons learned from jury after jury, but several truths are inviolate no matter how loudly one yells or how forcefully one pounds the table—the bellwether selection process was developed fairly and by consensus, the bellwether plaintiffs were representative of the overall composition of this litigation, the bellwether trial process enabled the cases to be heard by a diverse combination of judges and jury pools, and, as a result, the bellwether verdicts provide a fair representation of how juries view the evidence and value the claims.”
Amidst “personal and provocative” attacks from 3M, the Court has voluntarily certified the decision for appeal before the remaining cases move forward. Judge Rodgers has issued a stay for each of the four waves of litigation taking effect on Oct. 27, Oct. 31, Nov. 4, and Nov. 7 respectively.