September 22, 2015 — Lawyers for people who developed severe infections after the Bair Hugger was used in their surgery have asked federal judges to centralize the litigation into one federal court.
At least 14 lawsuits in five federal courts are pending against 3M Company and its subsidiary Arizant Healthcare, according to Reuters.
A motion (PDF) to centralize the litigation in Minnesota was filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on August 21 by attorneys for plaintiff William Lichlyter.
On September 14, attorneys for 3M responded to say they oppose centralization because the cases are so unique and the claims have no basis in science.
The JPML may centralize the litigation into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL), which helps improve efficiency, reduce costs, and eliminate the risk of conflicting rulings. Cases are selected for “bellwether” trials that help lawyers resolve other cases involving similar injuries. Unlike a class action, each case remains independent and can have its own outcome.
3M and Arizant are accused of selling a defective medical device and failing to warn about safety risks. A number of lawsuits involve people who had to have limbs amputated due to antibiotic-resistant infections like MRSA. Treatment for a deep joint infection often involves aggressive antibiotic therapy, several surgeries, hospitalization, and months of rehabilitation. Many victims are left with permanent disabilities and limited mobility.