Texas Bair Hugger LawyerDecember 15, 2015 — The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has centralized more than 50 lawsuits involving the Bair Hugger warming blanket into one federal court in Minnesota.

The transfer order (PDF) centralized the lawsuits for coordinated pretrial proceedings against 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare. The Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2666) is located in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota under Judge Joan N. Ericksen.

All of the lawsuits involve plaintiffs who developed serious infections during orthopedic surgeries due to introduction of contaminants in their open wounds. The plaintiffs argue that the Bair Hugger is defective in at least two ways:

  • It interrupts the normal air-flow around the surgical field in an operating room
  • The internal airflow paths of the device’s blower can be contaminated with pathogens that can be blown into the operating room

Patients who develop infections may need additional surgery or hospitalization. Severe infections, especially with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, may result in amputations or even death.

The JPML selected the District of Minnesota because 3M and Arizant are headquartered in Minnesota, where many witnesses and relevant documents are likely to be found. In addition, nine lawsuits are already pending in the district. Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the court system, according to the JPML.

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