3M wins appellate decision

Court upholds dismissal of 61 Minnesota cases

Ruling extends 3M’s string of victories in 3M™ Bair Hugger™ system litigation

3M won another significant legal victory on Jan. 14, 2019, when the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s dismissal of 61 cases that inappropriately blamed the Bair Hugger patient warming system for surgical site infections.

The appeals court affirmed a decision by a Ramsey County District Court to grant summary judgment to 3M in all 61 cases filed in the state of Minnesota.

The appeals court noted that the lower court reviewed documents which “clearly demonstrate that the relevant scientific community has not accepted the novel scientific opinion that [forced air warming devices] cause an increased risk of [surgical site infections].”

The court further stated, “We … conclude that there is no demonstrated causal relationship between [forced-air warming devices] and increased risk of [surgical-site infections.]

The appeals court also affirmed the lower court’s decision preventing plaintiffs’ attorneys from seeking punitive damages, noting the lower court found that the plaintiffs’ arguments “lacked any support, much less clear and convincing evidence.’’

The decision affects 61 cases filed by plaintiffs in Minnesota. All of those cases are dismissed in 3M’s favor. The decision does not affect cases pending in federal court.

The appeals court also detailed the role played in the litigation by 3M competitor, Scott Augustine. The court noted Augustine’s history involving the Bair Hugger system and his role in funding a medical study against the Bair Hugger system. The court also noted Augustine’s 2004 guilty plea to Medicare fraud and highlighted warnings from U.S. and German regulators for Augustine to stop making false claims.

The appellate ruling continued 3M’s record of victories in defending the safety of the industry-leading warming system.

In the only trial to date involving the Bair Hugger system and infection claims, a jury deliberated less than two hours before finding fully in 3M’s favor. Nearly 600 cases also have been dismissed, including most of the cases selected as representative of the multidistrict litigation.

You can read the appeals court order here.