Lawyers Ask Judges to Centralize Bair Hugger Lawsuits

Texas Bair Hugger LawyerSeptember 22, 2015 — Federal judges have been asked to consolidate lawsuits involving the Bair Hugger, a surgical warming blanket that may increase the risk of infection.

According to Reuters, there are at least 14 lawsuits pending in five different federal courts. In a motion (PDF) filed on August 21, attorneys for William Lichlyter asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to transfer all the lawsuits into one federal court in Minnesota, where 3M is headquartered.

In a response filed on September 14, 3M Company said they oppose centralization because the claims have no basis in science and each case is so unique.

Several lawsuits involve people who had devastating antibiotic-resistant infections like MRSA after routine hip or knee replacements went wrong. Deep joint infections often must be treated with numerous surgeries, hospitalization, aggressive antibiotic therapy, and amputation.

The JPML may decide to centralize the lawsuits into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL), which improves efficiency but allows each case to remain independent. It also reduces the risk of conflicting rulings in different courts. In the future, certain cases may be selected for “bellwether” trials. The outcome of those trials can help lawyers negotiate a settlement or resolve other cases with similar injuries and allegations.

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