The federal court overseeing hundreds of 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuits has rescheduled Science Day, which was originally set for June 18th.
According to an Order issued in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida, Science Day presentations will now take place on August 26th, beginning at 9:00 a.m.
In the interim, the parties will meet and confer on the parameters of presentations, including the timing, scope, format, and presenters. A joint proposal is to be submitted to the Court by August 5, 2019.
More than 800 3M Combat Arms earplugs lawsuits are undergoing consolidated pretrial proceedings in the Northern District of Florida.
The litigation involves the 3M Company’s Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2), which were standard issue for all United States active duty personnel serving in combat zones around the world from 2002 through 2015.
Science Day is intended to educate the Court on the scientific and technological aspect central to the litigation. Attorneys for plaintiffs and defendants will present the relevant information in a neutral manner, without cross examination or advocacy. The presentations will be “off-the-record” and won’t be used or admitted for any other purpose. Although a court reporter will transcribe the proceedings, an official transcript will not be included in the docket or otherwise made available.
The CAEv2 design was developed by Aero Technologies, Inc., which won an exclusive contract to provide military earplugs to the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency in 2002. The 3M Company acquired Aero in 2008.
CAEv2 were reversible, dual-ended earplugs. The yellow side blocked gunfire, explosions and other damaging concussive sounds, but allowed the wearer hear spoken commands and other low-level sounds. The green end blocked all sound, similar to a traditional earplug.
Last July, the 3M Company agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle federal claims that it knowingly sold defective earplugs to the United States military for over a decade. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Justice alleged that the CAEv2 design was too short to fit properly in certain individuals and could loosen without the wearer noticing, leaving users unprotected on the battlefield.
According to the whistleblower complaint, Aero Technologies was aware of these defects by 2000. However, rather than informing the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, or taking other steps to mitigate these issues, Aero and 3M falsely certified that CAEv2 complied with the standards of the military contract.
Military veterans pursuing 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuits in the Northern District of Florida claim that these defects were responsible for their service-related hearing loss and tinnitus.