The US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation reported that 700 product liability lawsuits have been filed as of Sept. 15 in federal court in Minnesota against 3M Company involving its Bair Hugger forced-air warming blanket used in hip or knee surgery.
The docket is In Re: Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Products Liability Litigation – MDL No. 2666. It was created in December 2015 when there were only 14 cases pending.
The actions share factual issues arising from allegations that plaintiffs developed serious infections during their orthopedic surgeries due to the introduction of contaminants into their open wounds as a result of the use of a Bair Hugger system.
The plaintiffs allege that the device is defective in two respects:
- The device affects airflow in the operating room, causing bacteria from the operating room floor to be deposited into the surgical site.
- The internal airflow paths of the device’s blower can become contaminated with pathogens that can then be expelled into the operating room.
Deep joint infection
The actions present common issues concerning the development, manufacture, testing, regulatory approval process, and marketing of the Bair Hugger blanket. The plaintiffs developed a deep joint infection after hip or knee implant surgery. 3M is accused of ignoring the flaw for years, and of failing to make design changes or provide appropriate safety warnings to the medical community.
The Bair Hugger surgical warming system was brought to market in 1987 by Arizant Healthcare, Inc., which was acquired by the 3M Company in 2008. For further information, see Study: Contamination Increased 2000x With Bair Hugger Warming Blanket.
In pretrial order No. 13 on Sept. 9 the court set out an amended scheduling order governing discovery, proposals for short form complaints and plaintiff fact sheets, and setting the first bellwether trial for November 6, 2017. The next status conference will be held on October 13, 2016. Starting in November 2016, the regularly scheduled status conferences shall be held on the third Thursday of each month.