A Florida federal judge denied for a second time a bid from military veterans to send their suits over allegedly defective 3M earplugs back to Minnesota state court, saying neither this group’s “novel” arguments nor her recent rejection of one of the company’s defenses makes the federal forum inappropriate.

Ruling on motions from 70 plaintiffs, U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers stood by her ruling earlier this year in which she denied 341 motions to remand on behalf of more than 5,700 veterans who also originally filed in Minnesota state court.

“Broadly speaking, plaintiffs’ allegations mirror the allegations of the initial Minnesota plaintiffs in all material respects,” Judge Rodgers said. “Inexplicably, however, plaintiffs’ briefing fails to address, or even acknowledge, the court’s rulings with respect to federal officer removal in the first remand order.”

Judge Rodgers also said that a summary judgement ruling she issued in July in which she sided with the veterans and rejected 3M’s argument that Aearo was exempt from civil claims in the suit on the basis of its government contract did not strip away the federal court’s jurisdiction over the case.

“In short, because the summary judgement standard substantially differs from the plausibility standard for removal, the court’s summary judgement order does not impact the court’s analysis in the first remand order or its finding that defendants advanced a colorable federal defense,” she said.

The MDL was formed in the Florida federal court in April 2019. In the litigation, 140,000 military members say the earplugs were defectively designed and made, causing them to develop tinnitus and suffer hearing loss. They allege the defendants were responsible for the defects and failed to adequately warn the government about the issue.

 

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