Judge Reprimands Law Firms in 3M Earplugs MDL for Signing Clients’ Documents

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3M Earplugs MDL Lawsuit

A Florida federal judge has decided against sanctioning two law firms that signed documents in place of their clients but chastised their lawyers’ “obviously improper” act, which could have cut their clients out of their share of the $6 billion settlement in the 3M combat earplugs multidistrict litigation.

Since a majority of the releases at issue have now been signed by the plaintiffs, U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers said Friday that she doesn’t think the court should take further action, according to her order. But she did note that the erroneous signatures could have spelled disaster for the claimants, military veterans and service members who said they suffered hearing loss due to allegedly faulty combat earplugs produced by 3M subsidiary Aearo Technologies LLC.

“It is worth noting that, had primary counsel not cured the deficiency by providing the ‘wet signatures,’ the releases as signed by counsel would not have been accepted by 3M and these claimants would not be eligible for the settlement program and their cases would be subject to dismissal,” the judge said. “Out of the 252,943 claimants participating in the settlement program — represented by 339 different primary counsel firms — only these two firms signed releases for their clients.”