Eighth Circuit Brings 3M Bair Hugger Suits Back to Life

On August 16, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed the dismissal of nearly 6,000 lawsuits against 3M over the Bair Hugger patient warming device.  Ciresi Conlin represents plaintiffs in the multi-district litigation (MDL) who allege they have suffered deep joint infections as a result of 3M’s Bair Hugger.  The Eighth Circuit ruled that U.S. District Court Judge Joan Ericksen abused her discretion in excluding nearly all of plaintiffs’ experts and granting summary judgment in favor of 3M.

Mike Sacchet argued the omnibus appeal in the Eighth Circuit and, with the assistance of Megan L. Odom, was one of the lead drafters of plaintiffs’ appellate briefs.  “Thousands of individuals who were injured by this defective and hazardous device will now have their day in court,” said Michael Sacchet.  “We will continue to vigorously prosecute these cases on behalf of those who suffered needless and dangerous infections as a result of the 3M Bair Hugger.”

The 3M Bair Hugger is a forced-air device used in operating rooms to prevent hypothermia. The device blows air through a hose from a heating unit on the floor through a perforated blanket placed over the patient.  MDL plaintiffs allege that they suffered periprosthetic joint infections from using the Bair Hugger during their orthopedic surgeries. Periprosthetic joint infections are frequently caused by the introduction of microbes into the surgical site during surgery.  According to plaintiffs, the introduction of these infection-inducing microbes is caused by airflow disruption (where the Bair Hugger takes microbes from nonsterile areas of the operating room to the surgical site) and/or contamination within the Bair Hugger machine itself (in which bacteria is blown through the blanket into the operating room and eventually reaches the surgical site).  Both scenarios cause dangerous periprosthetic joint infections.

Read the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit here.