U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers shut down 3M’s bid for an order to make more than 180,000 earplug plaintiffs pay filing fees.
On Tuesday, April 5, 3M filed a motion requesting more plaintiffs in the administrative docket pay filing fees. The company’s reason behind the ill-fated motion was 3M’s belief that the lack of fees is the reason the case has ballooned to the largest MDL in history. In the motion, the company argued the court’s decision to waive the $402 per claim fee and other usual filing fees.
Judge Rodgers slammed the motion in a four-page order saying filing fees and other statutory requirements have never been waived, making the motion moot. The Judge went on to say that it is “hard to divine” what 3M hoped to accomplish in good faith by imposing the fees on plaintiffs in the MDL’s administrative docket. The judge said that the proposal would not be the “fantastical MDL-killer” that 3M hoped for.
“Defendants offer only a fallacy — namely, that absent the administrative docket, they would be facing a small fraction of the claims now pending in the MDL, and requiring immediate payment of all filing fees would winnow the inventory to a trivial size,” Judge Rodgers wrote. “The absurdity of that proposition is self-evident, and it is not borne out by the numbers.”
There are now more than 265,000 individual claims in the administrative docket and the court has begun transferring about 25,000 cases to an active docket per month—requiring plaintiffs bringing those cases to pay the fees.
3M’s request to require plaintiffs to pay fees on cases not yet in the docket does not take into consideration the court’s clerks.
“The transition process is staggered to accommodate the indispensable work of the Clerk’s Office, which must process each case, accompanying filing fee and pro hac vice motions, a burden the defendants have no concept of,” Judge Rodgers wrote. “The timetable simply cannot be feasibly accelerated in the manner suggested by defendants.”
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