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ARCHIVES: April 2019

SC Lawmakers Push to Fix Broken DUI Laws

Columbia, SC Car Accident Lawyers discuss a push by lawmakers to fix drunk driving laws. South Carolina residents are understandably frustrated by the state’s broken drunk driving laws, which safety advocates have talked about for a long time. In fact, residents have raised enough fuss that legislators are finally doing something about the problem. After all, no one wants to continue to hear about numerous innocent people being hurt or killed by intoxicated drivers.

Problems With Current DUI Laws

What is wrong with the state’s current laws governing DUI and drivers who have been caught? In a nutshell, two of the basic issues are as follows:

Ignition Interlock Devices Not Always Mandatory

Currently, South Carolina does not require that all DUI offenders have an alcohol ignition interlock device placed into their vehicles. Alcohol ignition interlock devices stop the vehicle from running if the driver shows any signs of intoxication. A mere 0.02 percent blood alcohol content level will cause the vehicle to shut down and stop working. Alcohol ignition interlock devices have been shown to work well in other states, slowing the rate of drunk driving accidents and recidivism. When tried in the state before, the alcohol ignition interlock devices stopped thousands of drivers from getting on the road.

Penalties Not Harsh Enough

Right now, someone who gets a DUI in South Carolina could potentially be out and driving in very little time. This seems unusually lenient, especially given the potential that drunk driving has to take lives in a matter of seconds. The problem is that the accused can get a temporary replacement license a few days later while the case is winding its way through the courts. Moreover, they do not have to have any kind of alcohol ignition interlock device in place. They can simply drive as normal without any penalty until their case outcome is determined.

Opposition to New DUI-Related Law

Although it may seem shocking, not all South Carolina residents are on board with the proposed changes to the law that Gov. McMaster supports. Their opposition mainly stems from concerns related to the expense involved in the alcohol ignition interlock devices themselves.

To be sure, alcohol ignition interlock devices are not inexpensive. Each one can cost up to $150 to install and $130 per month to maintain on each vehicle. However, as car accident lawyers can agree, the cost of saving lives that may have otherwise been lost to DUI offenders is well worth the expense. If an alcohol ignition interlock device saves just one individual, it would pay for itself several times over. Besides, the expense would be covered by the offender as part of the punishment for driving while drunk or otherwise under the influence, not the state, except in cases where monies from the Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole Services would be used.

Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Fight for Victims of DUI Offenders

As long as people get behind the wheel while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, they need to be held accountable for their actions. The dedicated Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A., help injured victims of drunk drivers and deceased victims’ surviving family members obtain the justice they deserve. If you need assistance from an experienced car accident attorney in South Carolina, please call our offices at 803-929-3600 or 800-531-9780 to arrange for your free initial consultation. You can also contact us online.

We represent injured accident victims and their families throughout South Carolina, including those in the communities of Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.

NTSB Makes Formal Improvement Request

Columbia, SC Car Accident Lawyers weigh in on needed safet improvements to cut down on accidents and injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has announced its 2019-2020 “Most Wanted List” of suggested transportation improvements. Among the investigative agency’s list are several key requests, including one that has particular importance to South Carolina residents who remember the tragic 2018 Amtrak crash that killed two people and injured more than 100 others. To avoid future such collisions across the country, the NTSB is asking for full implementation of positive train control, a braking system that would hopefully stop train accidents from occurring in the first place.

In addition to the request for positive train control systems, the NTSB is also focusing on highway-related changes. Three of the strongest recommendations involve: the elimination of distractions, a reduction of fatigue-related incidents, and an end to driver impairment from drugs and alcohol. To be sure, simply chipping away slightly at these problems could lead to positive widespread change in the form of fewer car accidents, not to mention related injuries, fatalities, and property damages.

Stop Driver Distractions

As most people know, drivers who are not distracted are in a better position to avoid wrecks and make wise decisions on the road. Therefore, the NTSB urges that no driver should be allowed to operate a cell phone–even one in hands-free mode–while driving. Currently, South Carolina allows drivers to make calls, although they cannot text while driving without risking a fine. Additionally, the NTSB expects vehicle makers to consider ways to reduce distractions for drivers when building new vehicle models.

Reduce Fatigue-Related Incidents

The easiest way to get drowsy drivers off the road is with education and implementation of regulations, says the NTSB. For instance, professional drivers should be held to a high standard when it comes to being alert and well-rested. This can be assisted by the use of electronic logging devices, which are already required by commercial drivers. However, every driver should take it upon himself or herself to pull over when too tired to drive rather than continue operating when drowsy.

End Driver Impairment

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is already a crime. The NTSB hopes to further prevent crashes and fatalities by lowering the legal blood alcohol content limit to 0.05 percent across all 50 states and District of Columbia. Currently, South Carolina allows those with a BAC between 0.05 percent and 0.08 percent to potentially avoid a DUI sentence depending upon other factors.

Another recommendation under this NTSB request is to require alcohol ignition interlock devices in any vehicles driven by those with past DUI convictions. South Carolina already has an ignition interlock program for offenders in place.

Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Take Action When Tragedies Happen

While these improvements would no doubt slow down the problems we face on our local and national highways, tragedies can and do still happen. If you have been involved in an auto wreck, please contact Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. to talk about the situation. Our dedicated Columbia car accident lawyers welcome the opportunity to speak with you about your case during a free consultation. Call our office at 803-929-3600 or 800-531-9780. You can also submit an online contact form.

We are proud to serve individuals and families across South Carolina, including those in the communities of Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.

Head-On Collisions Between Trucks Cause Devastating Results

Head-On Collisions Between Trucks Cause Devastating ResultsA fully loaded tractor trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 lbs. When a truck hits another vehicle head-on, it often results in catastrophic injuries that may be fatal. Tragically, the majority of these wrecks are the result of driver negligence, making them entirely preventable. However, even an experienced tractor-trailer driver may lose control of the vehicle due to the girth and challenges of safely maneuvering the truck through congested city and residential streets. This may bring extensive damage to property and endanger both pedestrians and other motorists.

The local news in Columbia, South Carolina, airs its share of stories about head-on collisions and other severe wrecks, which emphasizes how often they occur. Causes of these types of accidents range from distracted driving, drowsy driving, and driving while intoxicated to truck companies employing tractor-trailer drivers without enough training or experience.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a truck accident, our Columbia truck accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. will fight to get you the answers and the compensation you need. Call us today at 803-929-3600 or toll-free at 800-531-9780 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We represent clients throughout South Carolina in the following counties, Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, Newberry County, and in the municipalities of Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, Rock Hill, Aiken, Sumter, Newberry, Florence, and Spartanburg.

Aggressive Driving Accidents

Columbia Car Accident Lawyers discuss road rage accidents. Surveys reveal that nine out of ten drivers believe that aggressive drivers pose a serious threat to their safety. And research shows they have every reason to be fearful. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), speeding, tailgating, and other aggressive behaviors are a factor in more than half of fatal car accidents. What begins with one driver cutting another off or preventing them from merging becomes a dangerous battle of wills that ends with life-changing consequences.

Fortunately, road rage accidents are preventable. The following are some tips from AAA to stay calm and safe behind the wheel.

Be a Courteous Driver

Certain bad driving habits can enrage the most even-keeled drivers. Tailgating, cutting other cars off, and driving slowly in the passing lane tend to provoke already impatient or frustrated drivers. Be aware of your surroundings, take your time, and give your vehicle and those around you plenty of space. Making the choice to be a calm and courteous driver every day is the first step to preventing aggressive driving accidents.

Do not Engage with Aggressive Drivers

Angry drivers are easy to spot. They can be seen weaving in and out of traffic, riding the bumper of the car in front of them, or making obscene gestures at other vehicles. Every driver has surely felt the urge to retaliate against a rude, impatient, or reckless driver. But you can diffuse the situation by refusing to engage.

Avoid all physical and verbal contact with aggressive drivers. Even just making eye contact can turn a fleeting interaction into a personal confrontation. Slow down and allow dangerous drivers to pass. If you believe a reckless driver may be danger to themselves or anyone else, pull out of traffic safely and contact the police.

Adopt a New Attitude

When you realize that aggressive driving takes thousands of lives every year in the United States, you realize that mindful driving makes sense. Forget about “winning” against a reckless driver. Your life is more important than proving to another driver that you are right.

Knowing that you have plenty of time to get to your destination can put your mind at ease. Leave a bit earlier for added peace of mind. Make driving more enjoyable by listing to your favorite music or audio book. If you have difficulty controlling your anger, takes steps to get help. Stress-reduction techniques and anger management therapy can enhance not just your morning commute, but every aspect of your health and well-being.

When all else fails, try putting yourself in the other driver’s shoes. They may be rushing to visit a sick family member or comforting a crying baby in the back seat. With a bit of empathy, patience, and courtesy, aggressive driving accidents and the devastation they cause can be prevented.

Being on the other end of an unpredictable and belligerent driver can be a frightening experience. Even when you refuse to engage, some aggressive drivers are just looking for a fight – or an accident. Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. work on your behalf to hold negligent drivers accountable for the pain, suffering, and medical expenses you are facing after a motor vehicle accident. Your lawyer will review every detail of your accident and gather all the evidence necessary to prove your claim and recover the compensation deserve for your injuries.

Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Represent Victims Injured in Road Rage Accidents

To discuss your accident with an experienced Columbia car accident lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A., call 803-929-3600 or 800-531-9780, or contact us online. We offer free consultations to injured accident victims across South Carolina, including those in the communities of Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.

Open Safety Recalls on South Carolina Ubers

Columbia Car Accident Lawyers alert commuters about the dangers of open safety recalls with Uber and Lyft vehicles. The use of hired cars services like Lyft and Uber is booming. According to current research, between 40 and 45 percent of people living in urban and suburban areas throughout the United States use rideshare services. And that number is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years. Unfortunately, this incredible growth might be coming at the expense of passenger safety.

Carfax, Inc. and WCNC’s recent Defenders Investigation found that one in every four Uber and Lyft cars has an open safety recall. Among all of taxis and limos registered to the city of Charlotte, 28 percent have unchecked recalls.

Media outlet WCNC partnered with auto website Carfax to scan the license plates of Uber and Lyft cars at Charlotte Douglas International Airport during a two-day period. After analyzing the data on Lyfts and Ubers visiting the airport, they discovered that one-quarter had open recalls.

Some of the recalls they found include:

  • Fire risk
  • Hood latch problem
  • Takata airbags
  • Occupant restraint control issue
  • Power door sensing problem
  • Power steering malfunction
  • Risk of engine stall
  • Side door latch problem

These recalls increase the risk of a host of catastrophic, life-changing injuries. Recently, Toyota recalled 1.7 million vehicles worldwide for potentially defective Takata air bag inflators, the latest phase of the largest recall effort in history. In the United States, 37 million inflators have already been replaced since the recall campaign began in 2016. Takata airbags can potentially rupture, projecting shards of metal throughout the vehicle. So far, at least 23 people have been fatally injured by these defective devices.

The good news is information about current open recalls for Ubers, Lyfts, taxis, and other hired cars is easy to obtain. Enter license plate and vehicle identification numbers (VIN) into safercar.gov or Carfax’s free recall app to get up-to-date information about the safety of any vehicle. If you are concerned your personal car, truck, or van, use these online resources or contact the dealer for recall information.

Recovering Compensation for an Uber or Lyft Accident

In the city of Charlotte, there are more than a half-million cars on the road with unfixed safety recalls. Not only do these vehicles pose a risk to their own drivers, but when their defective equipment or systems increase their risk of a crash, they become danger to vehicles and pedestrians around them. Consumers should expect the rideshare vehicles they hire to be safe and free of open recalls.

When hired drivers fail to protect their passengers by ignoring safety issues or driving recklessly, the Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. are there to protect the rights of injured passengers. If you have been injured in a Lyft or Uber accident, you do have options for recovering compensation for your medical care, pain, suffering, and loss of income during your care and recovery.

Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Represent Clients Injured Because of Open Safety Recalls

To discuss your situation with a Columbia car accident lawyer who takes the time to listen and answer your questions, schedule a consultation with Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. today. Call 800-531-9780 or contact us online to get started.

We represent clients injured in wrecks throughout South Carolina, including those in the areas of Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the areas of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.

Measuring Worker Fatigue

Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers weigh in on worker fatigue. Fatigue is a major factor in lost productivity and reduction in safety. The National Safety Council is a non-profit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, home, on the road, and in the community through research, education, and advocacy. They have found that more than 43 percent of workers are sleep-deprived. Night shift and rotating shift workers are at particular risk of sleep-deprivation.

National Safety Council research estimates that reduced productivity caused by fatigue costs employers over a thousand dollars per employee each year. It estimates that fatigue costs U.S. employers more than $1 billion a year in health costs related to work injuries. It is worthwhile to find a way to prevent these losses.

Can You Measure Fatigue?

It may be understood that someone who is tired or exhausted works less efficiently and is more prone to making mistakes and getting injured. However, trying to measure fatigue and avoid it as a means to prevent loss is a new concept. The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) has a foundation that funds research into ways to improve worker safety. It recently released results of a study it funded to find ways to detect workers’ performance.

The research used sensors to gather data. Workers were fitted with wrist, hip, and ankle sensors while performing tasks typically performed by manufacturing workers. These included tasks including assembly, stocking, and remaining in a static position. The subjects worked continuously for three hours. The study examined the data to attempt to identify levels of fatigue.

The study showed changes in how the tasks were performed as the subjects got fatigued. According to one of the researchers, understanding how fatigue affects worker safety helps pinpoint problems, which is a first step to identifying solutions. The study concluded that measuring performance using the sensors can be used in detecting fatigue before it becomes a problem. Early interventions such as better-timed breaks or more breaks could be used to avoid fatigue-related injuries.

Enhanced Ergonomics Evaluations Possible

The sensors might also be helpful in performing ergonomics evaluations of the workplace. These studies examine body position and work station layout in order to identify inefficiencies and unnecessary strains to the body related to various work tasks. It is possible that the sensors could better quantify mechanics of how workers do their jobs and whether the workplace setup introduces unnecessary strain or difficult positions.

The result of an ergonomics evaluation can be engineering fixes to reduce ineffective work station design. The result could be to eliminate difficult postures or to reduce unnecessary lifting. Findings could also result in better targeted training programs to teach workers safe lifting and other body mechanics techniques to reduce the chance of overexertion and injury. Researchers are hopeful that use of sensors and the data they collect can be used to reduce the incidence of injuries from fatigue.

Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Help Injured Workers Recover Maximum Compensation

If you have been injured on the job, you probably have a lot of questions about what should happen next. Our experienced Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyers have successfully represented injured workers across South Carolina. We can explain the Workers’ Compensation system and help you file a claim. Contact us online or call 803-929-3600 or 800-531-9780 to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced work injury lawyer atChappell Smith & Arden, P.A.

We represent injured workers throughout South Carolina, including those in the areas of Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the areas of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.

South Carolina May Soon be Hands-Free

Columbia Car Accident Lawyers weigh in on attempts to end distracted driving in South Carolina. In 2018, distracted driving cost 62 lives in the State of South Carolina. That number does not include the thousands of injuries and crashes resulting from cell phone use behind the wheel. If one state legislator has his way, individuals who hold their phone to talk, text, or scroll their social media while driving would be breaking the law.

Representative Bill Taylor introduced a Driving Under the Influence of Electronics bill (DUIE) making it illegal to use your cell phone behind the wheel. If the DUIE bill passes, distracted drivers would receive a $200 ticket for a first offense. The law would not penalize drivers who are using their phones hand-free or in an emergency situation to contact the police.

How Distractions Endanger Lives

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider distracted driving a threat to public health, based on the fact that every day in this country, at least nine people die in wrecks involving a distracted driver. It only takes a few seconds for a distracted driver to cause an accident. That about as long as it takes for you to glance down at a text.

If you are traveling at a speed of 55 miles-per-hour while looking at your phone for five seconds, that is the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field blindfolded. You can not see or avoid hazards, and by the time you do, it may be too late.

South Carolina Distracted Driving Statistics

As it stands now, texting while driving is considered a secondary offense in the state of South Carolina, costing offenders no more than a $25 fine. The DUIE bill is much more comprehensive, penalizing drivers who even reach for their phone in an unsafe manner while moving.

If you wonder how extensive the distracted driving problem is in South Carolina, consider the numbers. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, distracted driving caused more than 17,000 motor vehicle accidents and more than 7,000 injuries in the year 2017. In 331 of these accidents, cell phones or texting were specifically reported to be a factor. That same year, 51 lives were lost in distracted driving crashes.

Georgia and DUIE Legislation

Representative Taylor and his colleagues are following the lead of the state of Georgia. Last year, Georgia passed their own DUIE legislation, with noticeable results. Since their DUIE law went into effect, they have written 699 tickets.

And while law enforcement officials have noticed an increase in hands-free driving as awareness grows about DUIE laws, not all Georgia drivers are getting the message about the dangers of distracted driving. Since Georgia passed their DUIE law legislation, officers have responded to nearly 5,000 car accidents, many of them the result of inattentive driving.

Already approved by a House subcommittee, the South Carolina DUIE bill has been sent to the House Education and Public Works Committee for further review.

Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Pursue Maximum Compensation for Victims of Distracted Driving Accidents

Drivers who insist on using their phones while driving endanger the lives of others. If you have been injured by a reckless driver, trust the experienced and dedicated Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. to advocate for you and seek the maximum compensation for your injuries. To discuss your accident with a compassionate and caring Columbia car accident lawyer, call 800-531-9780 or contact the firm using an online form.

We represent clients injured in wrecks throughout South Carolina, including those in the areas of Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the areas of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.

Chappell Smith & Arden Attorneys Selected to Super Lawyers 2019

The entire team at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. is pleased to announce that three of our attorneys have been recognized by Super Lawyers for 2019. This prestigious honor has been bestowed upon founding partner Mark D. Chappell, as well as Graham L. Newman and Jacob Born.

Super Lawyers chooses attorneys for their annual list using their patented multi-phase selection process. Honors are bestowed by an evaluation based on independent research and peer review. Each lawyer nominated has undergone a rigorous screening process. Selections are made annually and divided by state and area of practice. Super Lawyers created this list as a service to the public, providing a comprehensive listing of local attorneys who are exemplary in their chosen fields and have demonstrated proven results.

Mark D. Chappell is a founding partner at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. This marks the tenth consecutive year that he has been commended by Super Lawyers. Mr. Chappell has practiced law since 1985. His career has spanned many areas including personal injury, transportation and class action law.

Graham L. Newman has been honored as a Super Lawyers Rising Star each consecutive year since 2013. His focal areas of practice include class action and mass torts, contractual litigation, product liability and insurance bad faith. He has a stellar record in trial cases, securing multimillion-dollar awards for several clients. His trial experience in the court room and before appeals court make him a formidable opponent and highly successful litigation attorney.

This is the first year that partner Jacob Born has been recognized as a Super Lawyers’ Rising Star. Since he started practicing law in 2011, Mr. Born has shown diversity and dedication. He is active in his community, serving as a board member for Richland County Recreation Foundation, as well as his alma mater where he is the Columbia Area President at Charleston School of Law Alumni Association.

Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. is proud to have these three lawyers as part of our team. Their talents, and the talents of all our personal injury attorneys, bring distinction and prowess to our firm. If you are in need of legal counsel anywhere in South Carolina, call us today at 800-531-9780 to arrange a free consultation or contact us online.

We represent clients in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the counties of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.

Columbia, SC Personal Injury Lawyers are pleased to announce attorneys chosen as Super Lawyers 2019. Columbia, SC Personal Injury Lawyers are pleased to announce attorneys chosen as Super Lawyers 2019. Columbia, SC Personal Injury Lawyers are pleased to announce attorneys chosen as Super Lawyers 2019.

 

3M Combat Earplug Cases Centralized in Florida

3M Combat Earplug Defect CasesAll lawsuits pending in federal court against 3M Company for allegedly providing defective combat earplugs to the United States military have been centralized in the Northern District of Florida, per an order issued on April 3, 2019 by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. According to the JPML, these lawsuits—of which there are presently over 600—“involve common questions of fact, and that centralization will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation.”

Allegations pertaining to the 3M combat earplugs first were revealed in July of 2018 when a previously sealed lawsuit by the federal government against the company was released to the public after 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle claims of “protracted fraud perpetrated upon the military.” More specifically, the government alleged that the 3M “dual-ended Combat Arms™ earplugs”—which were standard issue in all branches of the Armed Forces between 2003 and 2015—were sold to the government in a knowingly-defective condition and exposed hundreds of thousands of servicemembers to hearing loss or tinnitus. 3M continues to deny these allegations.

Judge M. Casey Rodgers will preside over the consolidated cases from her chambers in Pensacola, Florida. First appointed to the federal bench in 2003 by President George W. Bush, Judge Rodgers served as the Chief Judge for the Northern District of Florida from 2011 to 2018. Of note, Judge Rodgers is also a veteran of the United States Army, having served on active duty from 1985 to 1987. Judge Rodgers is also no stranger to multidistrict litigation as she was appointed to oversee the In re: Abilify litigation which encompassed approximately 2,500 individual lawsuits and, just one month ago, resulted in a confidential settlement.

In the coming weeks, the MDL court is likely to convene its first status conference at which topics such as attorney leadership for both the plaintiffs and defendants may be discussed. Also yet to be determined is whether the court will establish a “direct filing” procedure in which plaintiffs across the United States may join the MDL proceedings.

Veterans who are interested in learning whether they may have a claim pertaining to the 3M combat earplugs should contact a lawyer familiar with the ongoing litigation. If you would like to consult with an attorney about a potential claim involving combat-related hearing loss, you may contact Graham L. Newman at gnewman@csa-law.com or (803) 929-3600. All consultations are free and confidential.

Graham L. Newman practices complex civil litigation with Chappell, Smith & Arden, P.A. in Columbia, South Carolina. He has represented numerous servicemembers—both active duty and retired—in a wide variety of civil matters including the 3M combat earplug litigation.   

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