The federal court overseeing thousands of hip and knee infection lawsuits involving the 3M Company’s Bair Hugger forced air warmer blanket has amended its pretrial schedule, following a request from the parties.
Per an Order issued on August 1st in the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, initial expert reports and disclosures of expert witnesses for the litigation’s first two bellwether trial cases are to be exchanged by October 9, 2017, while rebuttal expert reports and disclosures of rebuttal expert witnesses are to be exchanged by October 30, 2017. Depositions of expert witnesses in those two Bair Hugger lawsuits must be completed on or before December 15, 2017.
Case-specific dispositive motions in the first two bellwether lawsuits are to be filed no later than December 22, 2017. The Court will order a separate discovery (fact and expert) and dispositive motions schedule as to the other bellwether cases at a later point.
The Bair Hugger litigation’s first bellwether trial is still scheduled to begin on February 26, 2018.
More than 2,600 Bair Hugger lawsuits are pending in the District of Minnesota, where all federal injury claims involving the surgical warming system have been centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings. Plaintiffs pursing these claims allege that the Bair Hugger suffers from design defects that may allow potentially contaminated air from the operating room floor to enter the sterile surgical site, placing hip and knee replacement patients at risk for debilitating post-operative deep-joint infection. Plaintiffs further allege that 3M and its Arizant Healthcare subsidiary have been aware of this this issue for years, but have failed to alter the design of the Bair Hugger or warn doctors of this risk.
The Bair Hugger surgical warming system was brought to market by Arizant in 1987. The apparatus consists of a portable heater that draws in and warms ambient air. The warmed air is then transferred via a flexible tube to a single-use, inflatable blanket that has been draped over the patient.
Today, more than 80% of the nation’s hospitals use the Bair Hugger forced air warmer blanket to prevent hypothermia in patients undergoing orthopedic surgeries and other procedures.