Yesterday, the Judge in the 3M Earplug MDL (Hon. Casey Rodgers) ruled that 3M will not be allowed to avoid liability for the earplug lawsuits and pull the MDL into bankruptcy court.
This ruling was imposed by Judge Rodgers as an unprecedented judicial sanction as punishment for 3M’s blatant misconduct and abuse of the litigation process. But on a more basic level, it applied the principle of estoppel – you cannot take one position for years in litigation and then take a contradictory position when you come up with a new litigation tactic.
This ruling has far-reaching implications for the thousands of earplug lawsuits because it effectively nullifies 3M’s bankruptcy play, regardless of how the court rules on appeal. Does all of this slow down justice in the 3M class action? It does. But it also boxes 3M into a corner where it can choose a global settlement or it can continue to be slammed by juries.