Federal Court to Select Pool of Bellwether Cases in Bair Hugger MDL

bair-hugger-infectionUS District Judge Joan N. Ericksen said she will randomly select 150 cases for bellwether trials from the 809 actions filed in In Re: Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Products Liability Litigation – MDL No. 2666 in Minnesota.

Pretrial Order No. 15, issued on November 16, states that the cases will be designated on Dec. 23 from those that were filed in, removed to, or transferred to MDL No. 15-2666 (JNE/FLN) on or before Dec. 19, 2016.

After the parties submit relevant characteristics or categories to be considered, they will each select 16 cases from the pool of 150 for consideration for bellwether trials. Cases can be drawn from those filed in Ramsey County, Minnesota state court.

Deep joint infections

Bellwether nominations must be made by Jan. 20, 2017. Between then are March 1, 2017 the parties may conduct case-specific discovery, including collecting records from third parties. By March 1 the court will select up to eight of the Bair Hugger lawsuits for the final trial pool, with the first trial commencing on Nov. 6.

The 3M Bair Hugger is used during surgical procedures to regulate a patient’s body temperature. During an operation, a portable heater/blower takes in and warms ambient air, which is then gently forced through a flexible plastic hose into a single-use, disposable blanket.

Plaintiffs include patients who developed hip and knee infections following joint replacement surgery that involved use of the forced air warmer system. They assert that the Bair Hugger has a design defect that may cause the surgical site to come into contact with bacteria and other contaminants from the operating room floor. They further charge that the 3M Company has been aware of this risk for years, yet failed to make design changes or issue any warnings to the medical community.

The Bair Hugger system was developed by Arizant Healthcare, Inc., which was acquired by the 3M Company in 2006. Since its introduction in 1987, the apparatus has been adopted as the standard surgical warming system in thousands of hospitals throughout the U.S.

For more information see Court Approves Bair Hugger Plaintiff Fact Sheet and Medical Form.

Larry Bodine

Attorney Larry Bodine is Editor of Mass Tort Nexus, and the Editor of The National Trial Lawyers. He is the former Editor in Chief of Lawyers.com and the American Bar Association Journal. He is a cum laude graduate of both Seton Hall University Law School and Amherst College.

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