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.

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