Parties Nominate 34 Cases for Bellwether Trials in Bair Hugger Litigation

3M and the plaintiffs in the federal litigation over the the company’s Bair Hugger warming blanket have nominated 34 hip infection and knee infection lawsuits for potential bellwether trials (test cases).

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.

Currently 1,343 lawsuits are consolidated before U.S. District Judge Joan N. Ericksen in MDL 2666, IN RE: Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Devices Products Liability Litigation

Pursuant to Pretrial Order No. 17, the plaintiffs and defendants each identified 16 cases from the 150 cases randomly selected by the court on January 5, 2017. There is one overlapping case, making a total of 31 federal Bellwether Nominated cases. Additionally, consistent with the parties’ agreement to include Ramsey County, Minnesota cases, the plaintiffs and defendants each identified two cases from the related Bair Hugger cases filed in Ramsey County, Minnesota, on or before December 19, 2016.

There is one overlapping Ramsey County, Minnesota case, leaving a total of three Ramsey County Bellwether Nominated cases.

Infections following joint replacement surgery

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.

Co-Lead Counsel for Plaintiffs include:

  • Michael V. Ciresi and Jan M. Conlin of Ciresi Conlin LLP in Minneapolis, MN.
  • Ben W. Gordon, Jr. of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, Pensacola, FL.
  • Genevieve M. Zimmerman of Meshbesher & Spence, LTD., Minneapolis, MN.

Read More

Court Approves Bair Hugger Plaintiff Fact Sheet and Medical Form

bair-hugger-infectionUS District Court Judge Joan N. Ericksen for the District of Minnesota approved a Plaintiff Fact Sheet as well as procedures to use it in 3M Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Products Liability Litigation — MDL No. 2666, where 700 cases are filed, charging that it causes deep hip and knee infections.

The Sept. 27 order specifies that each plaintiff must serve defendants’ lead counsel electronically with a completed 22-page Fact Sheet and a signed medical authorization within 90 days. New plaintiffs, or those who have their cases transferred to the MDL, also have 90 days after the filing of their complaint/short-form complaint, or completed transfer.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation created the MDL on December 11, 2015, when only 14 cases were pending. The plaintiffs allege that the device is defective in two respects:

  1. The device affects airflow in the operating room, causing bacteria from the operating room floor to be deposited into the surgical site.
  2. 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 about 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.

Starting in November 2016, the regularly scheduled status conferences shall be held on the third Thursday of each month.

Read More