Updates on the 3M® Bair Hugger Lawsuit

3M®, the main manufacturer of Bair Hugger warming blankets, has faced many lawsuits over their blankets. Most claimants are contending that these blankets are causing infections and other injuries.

Surgical warming blankets are popular in many hospitals in the United States. However, these blankets have become controversial over the years.

3M®, the main manufacturer of Bair Hugger warming blankets, has faced many lawsuits over their blankets. Most claimants are contending that these blankets are causing infections and other injuries.

What Is a Bair Hugger Warming Device?

A Bair Hugger device is a warming blanket used during and after surgery to maintain the patient’s temperature.

A patient’s body temperature usually drops during surgery, and it’s important to keep this as regulated as possible. Without maintaining body temperatures, it's difficult for  surgeons to control the bleeding and other factors, possibly increasing the patient’s recovery time. 

The  Bair Hugger warming blanket contains a heater and a blower connected to a disposable blanket. The Bair Hugger device circulates warm air around the patient to help maintain their body temperature.

This warming blanket is popular in many hospitals since it is ideal for preventing hypothermia exposure during surgery.

3M® Bair Hugger Lawsuit Updates

In 2015, a federal panel combined 14 cases against 3M® into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). The MDL judge chose five cases for trial, and in 2018, 3M® won the first case in Minneapolis.

By 2019, over 5,600 lawsuits had been filed against the 3M® manufacturing company. The primary argument in most of these lawsuits is that the Bair Hugger device can transfer bacteria when blowing hot air, causing infections in patients who may already be immunocompromised.   

A federal judge dismissed the remaining lawsuits in 2019, leaving the victims without legal recourse. However, in 2021, the cases were taken back to a lower court for evaluation.

In 2022, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the previous ruling in 3M®’s favor was erroneous since it did not incorporate some of the plaintiffs’ evidence. This prompted 3M® to commence a lawsuit appeal process.

In February 2022, the federal judge appointed a mediator to help 3M® and the victims reach a fair settlement. It gave the victims hope that they would receive financial restitution for the damages incurred.

The 3M® Bair Hugger lawsuits follows this timeline:

  • 1987. 3M® introduces Bair Hugger into the market after the FDA’s Approval.
  • 2013. Mr. Tommy Walton became the first person to file a lawsuit against 3M®.
  • 2013 - 2015. Other people filed more lawsuits against 3M®.
  • 2015. A federal panel joined 14 cases into a multidistrict litigation (MDL).
  • 2017. The MDL chose five cases for the trial.
  • 2018. 3M® won the first case out of the five.
  • 2019. Over 5600 cases had been filed by this time, depicting people’s increasing concern about these surgical warming blankets.
  • 2019. A District Judge dismissed all the cases in the MDL.

Tommy Walton Lawsuit

Tommy Walton filed the first personal injury lawsuit against 3M® in 2013. He claimed that the surgical warming blankets used during his hip replacement surgery led to a joint infection.

In Mr. Walton’s lawsuit, he contended that he underwent 15 more surgeries before the doctors removed the artificial hip joint. In the lawsuit, he claims that the hot air may have transferred bacteria to the incision site, causing an infection.

Mr. Walton further accused 3M® for:

  • Not properly testing the Bair Huggers before releasing them to the market.
  • Not analyzing the Bair Huggers’ pre-marketing data.
  • Not doing any follow-up on the use of these surgical warming blankets.

Timothy Johnson Lawsuit

Timothy underwent a knee replacement surgery in 2010, where he developed a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection on the knee. The infection was severe, forcing the doctors to amputate his leg.

He filed a lawsuit in 2014 against 3M® company, claiming that their surgical warming blankets caused the infection.

Rosie Bartel Lawsuit

Rosie also underwent knee surgery and later developed an MRSA infection on her knee. Similarly to Timothy, her leg was amputated after a while. She sued 3M® for her injuries and emotional damages. since she lost her job after the surgery.

Does 3M® Know About This Issue?

The person who invented Bair Hugger sold the company in 2002 after falling out with his board of directors.

The inventor warned the company about the risks of using the Bair Hugger device, but 3M® was not happy about his sentiments. They even sued him for slander and did not investigate the inventor’s assertions.

When the first lawsuit was filed in 2013, 3M® had an opportunity to look into the issue and recall some of the warming blankets for further testing, but they didn’t. Their only effort was to address the issue in literature, but they never modified their design.   

Fast forward to 2019, there are over 5000 lawsuits alleging 3M® knew about the Bair Hugger problem but neglected to solve it.

Another issue raised in all the lawsuits is that 3M® failed to warn hospitals about their surgical warming blankets. After the first case was reported, the company did not warn other surgeons about the bacterial risks, meaning they did not take any action to prevent the usage of the Bair Hugger in other surgeries. 

What to do if I was affected by Bair Hugger devices?

There are some serious allegations against the 3M® Bair Hugger warming devices linking them to complications after surgeries. Claimants are coming forward saying that the devices caused them to develop after they had undergone surgery.

According to the lawsuits filed, the biggest risk for infection occurred in joint and knee surgeries. If you believe you were affected by these claims, submit a free eligibility check to see if you qualify for compensation.

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