Judge Rogers barred 3M Co from trying to avoid liability for injuries U.S. military members sustained from its defective earplugs by shifting blame to a subsidiary.
Judge Rogers ruled that 3M deserved the “harshest penalty” for its “bad faith” attempts to transfer the liability to Aearo Technologies, a bankrupt subsidiary of 3M. Aearo had developed earplugs for the U.S. military before 3M acquired it in 2008. After Aearo filed for bankruptcy protection in July 2022, 3M sought to escape liability by pushing everything onto Aearo.
Thankfully, a bankruptcy judge in August declined to put the litigation against 3M on hold.
Judge Rodgers said the bankruptcy judge’s decision should have ended 3M’s attempt to avoid liability. She said that 3M attempted — nearly four years into the litigation — to “rewrite the history of the earplugs ” by asserting for the first time that it is not independently responsible, as Aearo’s purchaser, for any injuries.
Judge Rodgers said 3M was “masquerading as the hapless wrong party defendant and purposefully ambushing the other side with a wholly contrived strategic position.” She barred 3M from “shifting blame to the Aearo defendants”.
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So, it’s not often that a federal court judge comes out so strongly against a corporate defendant. In MDL litigation, our experience is that federal judges often give defendants the benefit of the doubt, and plaintiffs are often left out in the cold. How refreshing it is for a judge to call absolute bulls*it on a defendant, and refuse to let it squirm out of its responsibility to account for its conduct.
Way to go, Judge Rogers. Way to go.