3M earplug bankruptcy creates “corrosive” tension with other courts, attorney says

The 3M logo is seen at its global headquarters in Maplewood, Minnesota. REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi

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(Reuters) – A 3M Co subsidiary on Wednesday criticized the way federal courts have handled 290,000 consolidated lawsuits over allegedly defective earplugs it made for the U.S. military, saying that the “broken” legal system allowed claims to balloon and threatened the company’s ability to settle them.

3M subsidiary Aearo Technologies LLC pressed for, but did not get, a court order that would protect its parent company from the lawsuits at its first hearing in U.S. bankruptcy court in Indianapolis. Instead, it reached a more limited agreement with plaintiffs to pause work for three weeks, interrupting witness depositions and expert reports scheduled in the lawsuits, which have been consolidated in the largest-ever multidistrict litigation (MDL) in U.S. court.

Plaintiffs sued Aearo and 3M over the company’s Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 (CAEv2), claiming they are defective and damaged their hearing. The cases ballooned to a peak of more than 290,000 last year and now account for nearly one-third of all cases pending in all federal courts, according to a court filing.

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Alex Jones company files for bankruptcy; Sandy Hook defamation trial expected to continue

AUSTIN, Texas – Free Speech Systems, the main company owned by Austin-based conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, has filed for bankruptcy – but a Jones lawyer said the action is not expected to affect a trial underway in Austin in a lawsuit by the parents of a child killed in the 2012 attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Free Speech Systems, which operates Jones’ InfoWars media system, listed $14.3 million in assets, including almost $1.16 million in cash and almost $1.6 million in property and equipment, as of May 31.

But the Austin corporation’s bankruptcy filing also listed $79 million in liabilities, including a $54 million debt owed to PQPR Holdings.

Video: Sandy Hook conspiracist Alex Jones could owe $150 million in defamation case 

A separate lawsuit filed by two Sandy Hook families earlier this year in state court accused Jones of systematically hiding millions of dollars in assets and called the $54 million debt dubious, saying PQPR is a Nevada-registered company that is owned “directly or indirectly by Jones, his parents and his children through an alphabet soup of shell entities.” That lawsuit is still in the early stages.

Alex Jones walks into the courtroom in front of Scarlett

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Alex Jones’ company ‘fabricated’ debt, Sandy Hook families say

Sandy Hook families suing Alex Jones for damages after the Infowars host was held liable for defamation have accused him of playing a complex financial shell game in an attempt to avoid paying, according to a new objection they filed in federal bankruptcy court.

The families objected to Jones’ company’s request for the court to authorize the use of cash collateral to “pay reasonable and necessary operating expenses.”

The objection alleges that the debt is based on a “fabricated, allegedly secured loan from an affiliated, insider entity of the debtor, PQPR,” attorneys wrote in their objection filed Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Southern District of Texas on behalf of the Sandy Hook families involved in the three defamation cases against Jones in Connecticut and Texas, as well as a Norwalk man he defamed over the Parkland, Fla. shooting.Last week, Jones sued his own company, Free Speech Systems, to be held harmless in any award, meaning that the company and not Jones would be liable for any damages.

An initial response filed by attorneys for the families, called the attempt a “fiction” in which “found facts and sworn testimony mean nothing at all.”

One day later, Free Speech Systems filed

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Sandy Hook Lawyers Rip Bankruptcy Bid By ‘Coward’ Alex Jones To Dodge Damages

Lawyers for Sandy Hook parents who successfully sued Donald Trump ally Alex Jones for his relentless lies about the mass killing are blasting him for now trying to use bankruptcy protection laws to dodge paying defamation damages.

“Just two days before jury selection is due to begin in Connecticut, Mr. Jones has once again fled like a coward to bankruptcy court in a transparent attempt to delay facing the families that he has spent years hurting,” Chris Matei, a lawyer for the families, said in a statement.

The extremist right-wing podcaster was found liable for defamation last year for repeatedly insisting that the 20 first-grade children (and six adults) killed in a mass shooting at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 — and their devastated parents — were acting as part of a fake anti-gun stunt staged by the U.S. government.

On top of the excruciating tragedy, families were then forced to deal with harassment and death threats from Jones’ unleashed fans.

A trial to determine damages began last week in a defamation case in Texas, where Infowars is located, and another begins this week in Connecticut. Last Friday, Jones suddenly declared bankruptcy for Infowars’ parent company. He

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Nursing chain’s tangled structure, bankruptcy threats stymied suits

After a hospital stay in 2016 for a brain tumor, Regina Romero was transferred to a nursing home in New Mexico. Her “medications were withheld” and she was neglected and “subjected to an assault,” her family alleges in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in 2017 against the facility, Paloma Blanca Health and Rehabilitation.

Romero died less than four months after arriving at the home; she was only 59 years old, states the complaint, which doesn’t detail the allegations.

In March 2021, the case was nearing a settlement when negotiations suddenly halted.

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That month, a unit of Consulate Health Care — which owned 140 nursing homes, including Paloma Blanca — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections. Romero’s stepdaughter said Consulate attorneys leveraged the pending bankruptcy as a bludgeon: either accept a significantly reduced settlement, or risk getting little or nothing from a bankrupt entity. The family begrudgingly took the much smaller offer, an amount that cannot be disclosed under the settlement terms.

“It’s horrible because I think they got away with what they did,” said the stepdaughter, Lisa Robichaud, who had moved near Romero when she entered Paloma Blanca. The two women had bonded over cooking together and grown

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