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Bair Hugger MDL Bellwether Trial Update

Bair Hugger MDL Bellwether Trial Update

For more information, please contact The Ahearne Law Firm, PLLC for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. Call nationwide at (845) 986-2777.

About 30 bellwether lawsuits have recently been identified in the Bair Hugger multidistrict litigation (In Re: Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Devices Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2666) presided over by United States District Judge Joan N. Erickson of the District of Minnesota. According to a brief filed last week, the parties recently identified more than 30 cases as potential bellwether trial candidates.

According to the April 7th brief, plaintiffs and defendants have each nominated 16 federally-filed Bair Hugger lawsuits from a group of 150 cases randomly selected by the Court earlier this year. As their selections overlapped, the bellwether candidate list submitted to the Court consists of 31 lawsuits. Each side also selected two Bair Hugger cases from the docket pending in Minnesota’s Ramsay County District Court.  As one of those cases also overlapped, a total of three selections were submitted to the Court.

Upon completion of case-specific discovery, the parties will choose eight representative cases from this list for a Final Bellwether Trial Pool. The first Bair Hugger trial will be convened on February 8, 2018, once bellwether case discovery, challenges to the admissibility of expert witness testimony and any dispositive motions have been completed.

Over 1,300 Bair Hugger lawsuits are currently pending in the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, the majority of which were filed on behalf of hip and knee replacement patients who allegedly developed deep joint infections due to the use of the forced air warmer system during their implant surgery. Bellwether trials are designed to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of the claims, and gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.

Originally manufactured and marketed by Arizant Healthcare Inc. since 1987, the 3M Bair Hugger is now in the 3M stable of products after the latter acquired Arizant in 2006, and has generated over $31 billion in sales. In recent years, the Bair Hugger blanket has been used in more than 80% of all hip replacement surgical procedures, with more than 50,000 of the devices in hospitals throughout the United States.

Given the need to keep surgical theatres cool to aid in reducing the spread of bacteria and to contribute to the alertness of surgical staff, it has been determined that warming the patient during surgery aids in healing and promotes blood flow as well as preventing hypothermia. The Bair Hugger was developed and first introduced in 1987 as a way to warm a patient’s body during surgery. The Bair Hugger, which transfers warmed ambient air from a unit on the floor through a conduit of forced air to a disposable warming blanket draped over the patient during surgery, has since been adopted by thousands of hospitals in the United States and Canada and is considered standard procedure for long surgeries.

Plaintiffs allege that (i) the system suffers from a design defect that may cause bacteria, pathogens and other contaminants lingering at the floor level is transferred up to the patient with the warm air and risks infection, specifically at the surgical site, including deep joint infection, and (ii) 3M and Arizant have been aware of this issue for years, but have failed to modify the Bair Hugger or warn doctors of this risk. Various lawsuits assert that the risk of infection is worse for joint replacement procedures, such as for hips and knees. Research has also suggested that the device is linked to higher rates of hip sepsis, MRSA or other infections.

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If you or a family member have suffered injury after surgery, or have had revision surgery to remove and replace a hip or knee implant, you and/or your family member may be entitled to money damages.

For more information, please contact The Ahearne Law Firm, PLLC for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. Call nationwide at (845) 986-2777.

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