That was December 11, 2015. A total of fourteen joint infection cases were assigned by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to US District Judge Joan N. Ericksen. At the time, nine cases were based in Minnesota with five additional cases hailing from Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Ohio and Texas joining the Minnesota cases under consolidation. According to the ruling at the time, there were at least 51 potential ‘tag-along’ cases pending in other federal courts.
Fast-forward eleven months. As of November 18 – a little under a month ago – there were 889 warming blanket lawsuits housed in multidistrict litigation in Minnesota, according to court documents. Two days prior, on November 16, a widely anticipated Order issued in the US District Court, District of Minnesota, spelled out the latest template for the first bellwether trials expected next year.
3M Warming Blanket lawsuit cases filed with the court and consolidated under multidistrict litigation as of December 19 of this year will be eligible to be part of a pool of cases from which the Court will randomly select some 150 cases as potential lawsuits for a bellwether trial.
From that pool, according to the Order, plaintiffs and defendants will whittle that list down to some 16 cases from the primary group, as well as the inclusion of one, or two cases from a pool of Bair Hugger Warming Blanket lawsuits also pending in Ramsey County District Court, District of Minnesota.
Those nominations are due by January 20 of next year, with case-specific discovery commencing the next day, January 21 2017. While that process is ongoing (until the beginning of March), defendants and plaintiffs will agree on a list of eight cases which best represents the overall case pool. The deadline for that process in February 10.
It is possible, in determining the Bair Hugger lawsuits that are most representative, that plaintiffs and defendants will not be in a position to agree on the eight cases. Were that to occur, then the respective parties will submit, as individual groups, their own interpretations of the eight most representative Bear Hugger deep joint infection lawsuits irrespective of the other party’s choices.
By March 1, 2017 the Court is directed to choose up to eight of those cases for inclusion in the Final Bellwether Trial Pool, with the first Bair Hugger bellwether trial scheduled to begin November 6, 2017 – almost a year from now.
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The allegation, however, is that bacteria lingering at the floor level is transferred up to the patient with the warm air and risks infection, including deep joint infection. Various lawsuits assert that the risk of infection is worse for joint replacement procedures, such as hips and knees.
Originally brought to market by Arizant Healthcare Inc., the 3M Bair Hugger is now in the 3M stable of products after the latter acquired Arizant in 2006.
The Bair Hugger multidistrict litigation is In Re: Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2666, US District Court, District of Minnesota.