As the trial date approaches, the parties often test the settlement waters. By attending a mandatory settlement conference, the parties can better understand their chances of winning. As a result, most judges order both plaintiffs and defendants to attend a mandatory settlement conference. Often, the parties settle before going to trial. Nevertheless, the plaintiff should not give up. If the settlement doesn’t make financial sense, the plaintiff should seek legal counsel.
Three M’s are facing courtroom proceedings over the sale of their military earplugs. The company is defending the sale of their product by arguing that they don’t cause hearing damage and are safe to use. The company is a Fortune 500 company. Nonetheless, a third-party manufacturer is facing lawsuits related to the product’s design. The three largest companies are 3M, Alcon, and Tyco.
The most common defenses 3M will use in a 3M military earplug lawsuit include failure to warn or warning of potential harm. In addition, the manufacturer’s military earplugs are incredibly popular with service members. Nearly half of the men and women in the U.S. military have suffered from hearing loss caused by these products. But these lawsuits are largely unfounded. Even if 3M is found not liable, they can still pursue a lawsuit for medical expenses related to the injury.
The majority of the 3M military earplug lawsuits will settle and the company will be forced to pay out more than a billion dollars. However, if the company does not settle before the 11th Circuit rules, it faces an existential threat. As such, 3M should make sure to settle as many of the cases as possible before they go to court. In any case, failure to settle before the Supreme Court decides is detrimental to the company.
In one of the more controversial cases in the field of hearing loss, a Tennessee man named Joseph Palanki, 50 claimed he suffered permanent hearing damage while wearing 3M combat earplugs. The lawsuit claims that the earplugs caused the deaf man to lose the ability to hear. The court heard testimony from Dr. John Casali, the director of the Auditory Systems Laboratory at Virginia Tech, who has testified for 3M in previous trials. In addition, the plaintiff’s wife, Heather Beal, has testified in similar cases.
The trial concluded in January 2022. Wilkerson, a veteran of the U.S. Army, filed fifteen claims against 3M under Wisconsin law. He argues that the Combat Arms Earplug version 2 was defective, causing him to lose his hearing and become depressed. Although the plaintiff’s account of his hearing loss may be inconsistent, it is expected for a wounded war hero suffering from PTSD.
Despite the overwhelming evidence proving that the 3M military earplugs caused the deafness, the defense is trying to pierce the attorney-client privilege. Top Class Actions, which develops leads for personal injury lawyers, has been asked by 3M to disclose information about the plaintiff’s medical condition. Though technically correct, 3M’s attorneys argue that the plaintiff should not have to pay punitive damages.
The latest in a long line of successful Steven Finley 3M Military Earplum Lawsuits focuses on deceptive earplugs. In the eighth bellwether trial, Purple Heart recipient Theodore Finley was awarded $22.5 million, including $15 million in punitive damages. While this verdict was somewhat unexpected, it should push settlement amounts up even further. This is a testament to the sensitivity of the military hearing conservation program and the ability of the government to protect the military and its troops from hearing damage caused by earplugs.
The company’s defense argued that it was immune from liability as a government contractor. However, a federal judge refused to toss out these lawsuits based on the defense’s argument that 3M had no contract with the military to develop the earplugs. If the company had a government contract, then it would have had to be involved in the design process.
In addition to the medical evidence, 3M will argue that Finley’s hearing damage was caused by other factors. For example, 3M will argue that his hearing loss was caused by other factors, including the wearer’s own life. Judge Rogers has granted 3M limited use of the hearing expert’s report, which suggests that the case will ultimately be settled before a jury has a chance to decide.