Supreme Court Rejects 3M Appeal Over Surgical Warming Blanket Infection Lawsuit

The company how has to face thousands of surgical warming blanket infection lawsuits claiming Bair Hugger blankets caused dangerous hip and knee infections.

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a petition filed by 3M, which asked the highest appellate court to review and reverse a recent decision that reinstated thousands of surgical warming blanket infection lawsuits involving the company’s Bair Hugger devices.

The decision means 3M Company will have to face more than 5,000 Bair Hugger lawsuits being pursued by individuals who suffered devastating joint infections after the forced-air warming blankets were used during hip and knee replacement surgeries.

Each of the claims raise similar allegations, indicating the 3M Bair Hugger warming blanket design disrupts the airflow in operating rooms, causing bacteria and debris from the floor to enter the sterile surgical area, resulting in knee and hip infections that require multiple surgical procedures to remove and replace the infected joint.

In 2019, following several years of litigation, the federal Bair Hugger litigation was dismissed, after the trial judge ruled that plaintiffs’ expert witnesses were precluded from testifying at trial. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit overturned that decision in August 2021, returning each of the individual Bair Hugger infection lawsuits back to the trial court for further proceedings.

The cases are now pending before U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen, who has presided over coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings, and now must decide whether each of the lawsuits should be remanded back to the U.S. District Courts where the claim originated for trial, or whether additional “bellwether” trials should be scheduled in the federal MDL to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout the claims.

In February, 3M filed a petition for writ of certiorari, calling for the Supreme Court to weigh in and decide whether the appellate court erred in its decision, arguing that it was too flexible with the standard for admissibility of the plaintiffs’ expert witness testimony. The petition came after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit rejected a request filed by 3m last year for a full panel review.

On May 16, in response to the petition, the Supreme Court docket indicated that the petition was denied, without any comment or reasoning. The entry did note that Justice Alito took no part in the decision or consideration.

The petition had been seen as a “Hail Mary” by 3M, as it was likely an uphill battle to convince the Supreme Court that the issue was worth consideration and potentially a precedent-setting decision, and that the lower court had erred.

With the rejection of the petition, 3M will be unlikely to avoid facing thousands of hip infection lawsuits and knee infection lawsuits filed in the federal court system. If a settlement agreement cannot be reached, it will be up to the court whether to move forward with bellwether trials in hopes of reaching a resolution for the cases, or to remand them to their originating courts for trials as plaintiffs have requested.

2 Comments

  • LoriJuly 31, 2022 at 7:04 am

    I had 8 total knee replacements one after the other from very deep joint infections, my leg is horrible, I can't walk without a device or dance or nothing, my life is ruined, had too retire early on disability bc I couldn't do my job as a LPN anymore., I had MRSA, and so many other infections. from this blanket. So many!!!! It's ashame how something recalled could still vw allowed too use on pat[Show More]I had 8 total knee replacements one after the other from very deep joint infections, my leg is horrible, I can't walk without a device or dance or nothing, my life is ruined, had too retire early on disability bc I couldn't do my job as a LPN anymore., I had MRSA, and so many other infections. from this blanket. So many!!!! It's ashame how something recalled could still vw allowed too use on patients. I'll never be that same person that I was before. . My knee is horrible and so much pain still, but im coping the best I can. I hope this goes fast, I hope it isn't a sit and wait for more years down the road, its not for too any of us that went through this, not fair at all!!!!

  • jonathanJune 26, 2022 at 2:36 am

    Ah yes! The old 'wait 'em out. Soon enough, they will all die off, and the relatives/spouses will just forget . Here's where I just lose it. I had 3 previous hip surgeries NOT using the Bair Blanket, and had no problems. Then I had 4 more hip surgeries and got infected on every surgery using the Bair. Maybe not conclusive evidence...but holy shit, I have seen plaintiffs win bigly on weaker evid[Show More]Ah yes! The old 'wait 'em out. Soon enough, they will all die off, and the relatives/spouses will just forget . Here's where I just lose it. I had 3 previous hip surgeries NOT using the Bair Blanket, and had no problems. Then I had 4 more hip surgeries and got infected on every surgery using the Bair. Maybe not conclusive evidence...but holy shit, I have seen plaintiffs win bigly on weaker evidence. At 71, I aint got a whole lotta time. . I guess I should be happy I aint in the lock-up with the Jan 6 Revolutionaries who, armed only with 2 broomsticks, a buncha iPhones recording their own "crime" and a rubber band, surrounded by well-armed police/FBI/Capital Police who have yet to see a courtroom in almost 6 months were the biggest threat to "Democracy" since the theft of an American Presidential Race., or the infiltration of spies and traitors into places of power in our system I can't wait til Republicans regain the majority and get to the bottom of this BS. I hope the Democrats are s cared. Just wanna live long enough to pull the lever under the trap door and watch the bastrds swing with broken necks. Pricks.

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