The court overseeing the federal Bair Hugger multidistrict litigation (MDL No. 2666) is moving forward with plans to convene bellwether trials for joint infection lawsuits early next year.
What’s the Problem?
April 21, 2017 – According to a Brief (PDF) filed earlier the month, more than 30 Bair Hugger lawsuits have been nominated as potential bellwether trial candidates, all of which will be subject to limited case-specific discovery pending selection of a Final Bellwether Trial pool.
More than 1,300 lawsuits are currently pending in the Bair Hugger MDL in Minnesota, most of which were filed by hip and knee replacement patients who allegedly developed severe deep joint infections due to contaminated air blown on to them by the device during surgery. Bellwether trials are intended to allow parties to gauge how juries are likely to respond to evidence that is going to be presented in multiple cases.
According to the brief, both parties have each nominated 16 federal Bair Hugger lawsuits from a group of 150 cases randomly selected earlier this year. Because one of their selections overlapped, the bellwether candidate list submitted to the Court consists of 31 lawsuits.
Each side also selected two cases from the docket pending in Minnesota’s Ramsay County District Court. Because one of those cases also overlapped, a total of 3 selections were submitted to the Court.
Plaintiffs in the Bair Hugger MDL claim that the warming blanket has a design flaw that allows potentially contaminated air from the operating room floor to come into contact with the sterile surgical site, increasing the odds that patients undergoing a hip or knee replacement will develop an infection at the site of their implant. They further assert that 3M and Arizant have been aware of this issue for years, but have failed to modify the Bair Hugger or warn doctors of the risks.