3M loses offer to test complainant of earplugs for genetic hearing loss


The 3M logo can be seen at its global headquarters in Maplewood, Minnesota, USA on March 4, 2020. REUTERS / Nicholas Pfosi

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  • Judge says application is too late, deafness in “distant relatives” not grounds for testing
  • Bellwether’s trial set for March 2022

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US Army veteran suing 3M Co over hearing loss he says was caused by company earplugs doesn’t have to undergo genetic testing before his next trial to see if her disease could be inherited, a federal judge said on Wednesday.

US trial judge Gary Jones in Pensacola, Florida tenuous that 3M’s basis for requesting the test – that two of the complainant’s cousins ​​Steven Wilkerson were born deaf – was not a basis for ordering it.

Either way, the judge said, the Nov. 11 request came too late, necessarily pushing the test results past the Nov. 19 discovery deadline and leaving too little time for Wilkerson’s attorneys to settle. prepare for his trial on March 14. His case has been chosen as an informant in a mass tort litigation involving more than 270,000 claims relating to Combat Arms Version 2 (CAEv2) earplugs.

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Lawyers for the plaintiffs said in a statement that they were satisfied with the decision. 3M said she was confident in her case and that the earplugs were effective and safe.

In his motion asking the judge to order the test, 3M said Wilkerson’s low-frequency hearing loss was not usually caused by noise and that his cousins’ deafness could indicate a genetic cause.

Jones said hearing loss in parents or siblings might warrant testing, but not in “distant relatives.”

Seven indicator trials took place in the CAEv2 litigation. The plaintiffs won a total of over $ 28 million in four of them, while 3M took home three.

The MDL is In re 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation, US District Court, Northern District of Florida, No. 19-md-2885.

The witness is Wilkerson v. 3M Co, US District Court, Northern District of Florida, # 7: 20-cv-00035.

For Wilkerson and the other MDL complainants: Bryan Aylstock of Aylstock Witkin Kreis & Overholtz, Shelley Hutson of Clark, Love & Hutson and Christopher Seeger of Seeger Weiss LLP

For 3M: Kimberly Branscome of Dechert et al.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with a comment from 3M.)

Read more:

Jury awards record $ 13 million to latest 3M earplug indicator

3M wins in latest military earplug trial

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