In an effort to stifle free discussion about the Bair Hugger surgical blanket, attorneys for 3M are sending threatening takedown demands to bloggers who write about the litigation involving the medical device.
There are so many product liability cases against 3M, maker of the blanket, that the federal courts created MDL 2666 (multi-district litigation docket) in US District Court in Minnesota. The cases charge 3M with wrongful conduct in designing, manufacturing, and marketing a defective product.
More than 50,000 Bair Hugger units are currently in use across the country. About 217 Bair Hugger lawsuits are now pending in the MDL, all filed by hip and knee replacement patients who allegedly developed serious post-operative deep joint infections due to the use of the forced air warming blanket during their surgery.
Promoting a defective product?
For example, according to the lawsuit Tracy Adams Crawford v. 3M Company, CASE 0:15-cv-03777:
The hot air produced by Bair Hugger accumulates under the surgical drape covering the patient and escapes from under the surgical drape below the level of the surgical table or at the head end of the surgical table. This escaped air creates air flow currents that flow against the downward air flow of the operating room. As this warmed air rises, it can deposit bacteria from the floor of the surgical room into the surgical site.
In a June 1997 letter to the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), the 3M admitted that “air blown intraoperatively across the surgical wound may result in airborne contamination.” Defendants addressed this flaw in their products by making further misrepresentations to the FDA.
Rather than alter the design of their product or warn physicians of the dangers associated with the Bair Hugger, as numerous studies confirm, Defendants have chosen to “double down” on their efforts to promote their defective product.
Cheap intimidation tactic
Recipients of the 3M letter consider it a cheap intimidation tactic designed to violate free speech rights. The letters say:
We are writing because your organization, through its website and other channels, is making blatantly false advertising claims in an effort to generate leads for attorneys interested in pursuing claims against the 3M™ Bair Hugger™ patient warming blanket. These advertisements are damaging the goodwill and reputation of our client.
These claims violate various state and federal laws, including the Lanham Act; Section 5 of the FTC Act; state and common law product disparagement, unfair competition, and consumer protection laws; and attorney advertising ethics regulations.
Therefore, we hereby demand that your organization immediately cease sponsoring these advertising claims, and any others that make false or misleading claims about the Bair Hugger system.
Despite the mounting litigation, 3M argues, “there are numerous studies confirming the safety of the Bair Hugger system and its effectiveness in reducing surgical bleeding, decreasing post-operative heart attacks, reducing the risk of infection, shortening the recovery time, and improving patient comfort.”
Attorneys who have a client who was injured by a Bair Hugger blanket may find sample product liability complaints online at Mass Tort Nexus.
For further reading see Study: Contamination Increased 2000x With Bair Hugger Warming