Lawsuits filed against 3M Company over defective earplugs are being considered for consolidation into a multi-district litigation (MDL) in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.

A motion for consolidation into an MDL was filed in January 2019, and is under consideration of the Court. If approved, the MDL will permit claimants to file individual lawsuits while sharing “fact finding” with others from across the United States.

Attorneys expect thousands to come forward with viable hearing loss claims, although the exact number of people affected by 3M’s defective earplugs is currently unknown. If this prediction is correct, the cases will be ideally suited for consolidation into an MDL, which usually occurs when a large group of individuals have been injured by the same defective product.

What is an MDL?

Sometimes, there will be cases in Federal courts that all share the same “common facts”. A Federal law (28 U.S. Code § 1407) allows a special panel to combine the discovery process of these cases. This “Multi District Litigation” process is often used when there may be hundreds or thousands of cases where people have been injured by the same product.

When an MDL is established, cases regarding the same product are brought together and certain aspects of the case are streamlined. Rather than allowing a confusing slew of cases to proceed against the manufacturer of a defective product, each at their own pace, MDLs allow cases to proceed together. This helps to give both sides of a case clarity as to the status of claims.

MDLs are advantageous to large corporations being sued by thousands of plaintiffs. They also can be beneficial to claimants by bringing together the collective power of thousands of others supporting their claim, while maintaining an individual lawsuit.

How would an MDL affect a 3M Ear Plugs hearing damage lawsuit in Massachusetts?

The American Bar Association writes that an MDL “can quickly and drastically change the posture of an existing case.”

SUGARMAN attorneys have extensive experience in both state and federal courts with both individual and consolidated MDL claims, and can help explain the benefits of each.

If you were a member of the U.S. armed forces between 2003 and 2015, and were issued these defective earplugs, you may be entitled to compensation. SUGARMAN attorneys have decades of experience with product liability cases and have worked in multi-district litigations across the country. To speak to a SUGARMAN personal injury attorney regarding your potential claim, fill out a contact form, email us at, or call (617) 542-1000.