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U.S. Court of Appeals Reinstates Lawsuits Against 3M Bair Hugger Warming Devices

U.S. Court of Appeals Reinstates Lawsuits Against 3M Bair Hugger Warming Devices
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U.S. Court of Appeals Reinstates Lawsuits Against 3M Bair Hugger Warming Devices

The lawyers at Cellino Law continue to battle major medical product manufacturers on behalf of individuals injured by defective medical products.  One such litigation is against 3M company for its Bair Hugger warming device.

The 3M Bair Hugger device was developed in the 1980s to keep patients warm during surgery by circulating warm air around the patient.  Orthopedic surgery involving implants are prone to infection and the standard of care is to perform those surgeries in an “ultra-clean” operating room with a cold environment and HEPA filtration.  Even a single bacterium can lead to a devastating infection around a hip or knee implant. Experts determined that the Bair Hugger can carry bacteria to the surgical site through the warm air generated by the machine and through internal contamination of the machine itself.

Some studies suggest patients warmed by the Bair Hugger device were nearly four times more likely to develop a post-operative joint infection. In fact, the inventor of the device concluded that the Bair Hugger is defective and developed a new warming device that uses direct warming contact instead of blowing potentially contaminated hot air in the operating room. Nevertheless, 3M continued to market, support, and sell the Bair Hugger device.

Cellino Law’s Bair Hugger clients all developed joint infections following the use of the Bair Hugger device. Cases from across the country were consolidated in federal court in Minnesota and 3M aggressively fought each and every claim. In 2019, 3M was successful in blocking all cases, convincing the presiding judge that there was not enough evidence the Bair Hugger was defective. Our fight was far from over and all cases were appealed.  On Monday, August 16th, 2021 the higher court reinstated thousands of lawsuits against 3M alleging that the Bair Hugger warming devices can cause infections in patients undergoing joint surgeries.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that U.S. District Court Judge Joan Ericksen of Minnesota was wrong in ending the Bair Hugger lawsuits against 3M. Judge Ericksen had previously ruled that there was not enough scientific proof that Bair Hugger was defective and prevented the medical and engineering experts from testifying their opinions. Judge Ericksen’s decision was vigorously appealed. We strongly believed in our clients’ cases and that the court had “abused its discretion” by excluding almost all experts prepared to testify against 3M.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has now firmly agreed and its 35-page decision reinstated all cases. Those injured by the Bair Hugger device can finally move toward their day in court.

3M, of course, continues to defend their product through claims that there is no evidence that the Bair Hugger causes infections. 3M called the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit’s ruling “solely procedural” and vowed it will “continue to vigorously defend” itself against the claims. “We are exploring all next steps and options to challenge this opinion,” said a spokesperson for 3M.

As with most litigation against huge corporations with unlimited resources, the fight for justice can be long and difficult. We are up for the battle on behalf of our clients who deserve full and fair compensation.

If you or a loved one developed a joint infection after orthopedic surgery or have been injured by any other defective medical product it is important to reach out and speak with an experienced attorney as early as possible to protect your rights.

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