On Monday, May 17, the federal court in Pensacola, Florida, began another jury trial as part of the ongoing litigation regarding the company’s Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) product. This case is the second of three so-called “bellwether trials” currently scheduled in this litigation.
What does this mean?
A bellwether trial is essentially a test case intended to establish a common set of key facts and issues. This is a common practice in multi-district litigation (“MDL”), which typically involves many individual plaintiffs and cases. Both 3M and the plaintiffs’ lawyers select potential bellwether cases, and the Court then chooses a set of those cases to be tried. The bellwether trials currently scheduled are just an initial stage of the CAEv2 MDL, and the litigation is expected to continue for some time.
Wasn’t there already a trial and what happened?
The first bellwether trial ended at the end of April, with the jury siding with the three plaintiffs and awarding them damages. We are disappointed and disagree with the verdicts. While we do not believe the plaintiffs met the burden of proving their allegations, the trial was just the first step in this litigation, with many more cases to be tried before different juries. Each case must be proven on its own facts.
We believe there are multiple grounds for appeal of the verdict in the first trial, including those outlined in our filed mistrial motion, and we are evaluating our legal options. The second bellwether trial – this time involving only one plaintiff – is starting even as we consider how to move forward with an appeal of the first verdict.
What is 3M’s position?
We remain confident in our case and are ready to defend ourselves against plaintiffs’ allegations at the upcoming trials. As we will continue to demonstrate at trial, the CAEv2 product was effective and safe to use.
At 3M, we are committed to using science and innovation to improve lives and solve the world’s biggest challenges, including those faced by the U.S. military. 3M has supplied Combat Arms Earplugs to the U.S. military for more than a decade and continues to do so. We have great respect for the brave men and women who protect us around the world, and their safety is our priority.
What happens next?
We expect this second trial to last two weeks and conclude by the end of May. A third bellwether trial is scheduled for June 7 – June 18.