3M wins Minnesota state cases

State Supreme Court denies plaintiffs’ request to review rulings

3M scored another victory in the Bair Hugger litigation on March 27, 2019, when the Minnesota Supreme Court denied a request to reconsider the dismissal of 61 cases that improperly blamed the Bair Hugger patient warming system for surgical site infections.

The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the decision of the Ramsey County District Court, affirmed by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, granting summary judgment to 3M in the 61 cases filed in the State of Minnesota. No reason was given for the denial.

The court’s decision effectively ends the Minnesota state court litigation for those plaintiffs who sued 3M in those cases.

The Supreme Court denial comes two months after the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the ruling from the Ramsey County District Court. In that decision, the appeals court noted that the trial court had 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 concluded, “that there is no demonstrated causal relationship between [forced-air warming devices] and increased risk of [surgical-site infections.]

In its decision, 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 related to patient warming.

The Supreme Court decision continues 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. Over 600 cases also have been dismissed, including most of the bellwether cases that have been selected as representative of the multidistrict litigation.

The federal court overseeing the litigation has postponed a trial that was scheduled for May for the only active bellwether case remaining, Trombley v. 3M. No other trials are pending.