Earlier this month, judges were urged by 3M to reverse a bankruptcy court’s decision that allowed litigation to continue against the company. Aearo, a subsidiary of 3M, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year. Plaintiffs allege that the bankruptcy is an attempt to shield the company from continued litigation.
At Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC, we will continue to provide updates about this and other product liability cases affecting our clients. Our attorneys have been at the forefront of litigation in these challenging cases, working with unflappable determination to get our clients the compensation they deserve.
In 2022, a Pensacola judge allowed Aearo Technologies LLC to file for bankruptcy. Opponents of the decision claimed that the move was an attempt to shield their parent company 3M from litigation. Aearo was acquired by 3M in 2008 but was the original manufacturer of the military earplugs.
Prior to the decision, thousands of 3M military earplugs were consolidated into Multidistrict litigation (MDL). According to Reuters, opponents to the bankruptcy plan argued that 3M wanted the bankruptcy to attempt to halt litigation which had not gone favorably in most instances. 10 of 16 trials had been decided in favor of the plaintiffs. In total, 3M has already paid $265 million in awards.
In the bankruptcy proceedings, Aearo Technologies had argued for an “automatic stay” that would also extend to 3M ultimately shielding both companies from additional litigation. Unlike Aearo, 3M has not filed for bankruptcy.
3M has appealed the bankruptcy court’s decision to allow litigation to move forward. Counsel for Aearo has asked a panel of judges out of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to reverse the lower court’s decision. However, it seems unlikely that this will happen. During oral arguments, judges appeared skeptical as reported by Reuters.
The attempt to utilize a bankrupt subsidiary as a shield is not new. Recently Johnson & Johnson attempted a similar legal maneuver. The appeals court in the present case seemed unpersuaded. The MDL against the earplug makers is said to be the “largest ever” in United States history with almost 330,000 filed 3M military earplug cases.
It is important to remember that you may be entitled to compensation if you are injured by a dangerous or defective product. You should always speak with a product liability lawyer to determine your legal rights.
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