3M lands major victory

Court dismisses all federal lawsuits against Bair Hugger system.

In an important win for 3M, a federal court on July 31 dismissed all of the federal lawsuits against the 3M™ Bair Hugger™ patient warming system, granting 3M’s motion that argued there is no scientific support for claims that the Bair Hugger system can cause infections. On August 1, 2019, 3M issued a press release regarding the victory.

The decision dismisses more than 5,000 lawsuits filed by plaintiffs’ attorneys from across the country. Those lawsuits were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in federal court in Minnesota.

The federal decision also comes six months after the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a Minnesota state court order dismissing 61 similar cases filed by lawyers on behalf of Minnesota plaintiffs.

In its ruling, the federal court granted 3M’s request to exclude the plaintiffs’ general causation experts, leaving the plaintiffs with no scientific support for their claims.

The plaintiffs’ infection theory was invented by 3M competitor Augustine Temperature Management and its founder Dr. Scott Augustine. Dr. Augustine has waged a decade-long campaign to malign the Bair Hugger system as part of an effort to market his own competing product. Plaintiffs’ lawyers have spent millions of dollars on advertising to solicit patients who contracted infections during surgery.

In August 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to health care providers stating that it continues to recommend the use of patient warming devices, including forced-air warming devices, for surgical procedures when clinically warranted.

The 3M Bair Hugger system, which is used to warm patients before, during and after surgery, has been safely used more than 300 million times in the past 30 years. It continues to be used thousands of times each day in medical facilities worldwide.