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Bair Hugger Forced-Air Warming Blanket MDL Grows

Aug 29, 2016

Litigation continues to grow over the Bair Hugger surgical warming blanket. A new lawsuit was filed on Aug. 11 against 3M and Arizant Healthcare alleging that the Bair Hugger caused a deep joint infection. A plaintiff in the lawsuit is a New York man who alleges that he had to undergo additional surgeries and antibiotic therapy in order to treat his infection. The suit filed on his behalf seeks compensation for economic loss, pain and suffering and loss of consortium on behalf of his spouse.

More than 450 similar lawsuits are pending in federal court and state court in Minnesota. The Bair Hugger forced-air warming blanket is used to maintain a patient's body temperature during surgery. According to plaintiffs' lawsuits, however, the product places patients at risk for deep joint infections. Most plaintiffs allege that they suffered an infection with the Bair Hugger after undergoing a knee or hip replacement or cardiovascular surgery. Suits allege that the Bair Hugger caused infection with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), bacteria that is resistant to most antibiotics.

3M and Arizant are accused of failure to warn of the risk of deep joint infections. The lawsuit also alleges that the product was designed defectively. The suit additionally alleges that the companies breached the implied warranty and violated the Consumer Fraud and/or Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Law of the state of New York.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation established a multidistrict litigation (MDL) for Bair Hugger lawsuits in Minnesota. MDLs are often created in mass tort claims to speed up complex litigation by coordinating discovery proceedings. Lawsuits with common allegations are consolidated to one court before one judge in order to eliminate duplicate discovery and streamline the legal process.

With the Bair Hugger MDL, plaintiffs allege that the warming blanket caused deep joint surgical infections due to its forced-air design, which allegedly picks up contaminants from the operating room floor and deposits them into the surgical site.

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