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3M prevails in much-watched defective product litigation

Large medical companies ranging from pharmaceutical entities to device manufacturers know that incoming litigation is a distinct and sudden possibility at any time. Indeed, America’s leading health care businesses suffer lawsuit-linked threats in a manner perhaps unparalleled in any other industry.

The company 3M knows all about that. In fact, the device maker has been involved in a lawsuit that pits the credibility of a tool that is routinely featured in surgeries against the claim of a man who says it infected him during an operation.

That device is the Bair Hugger, which helps keep surgical patients warm during procedures and helps them avoid infections. The above plaintiff claimed that the device actually served as a conduit transferring infectious bacteria to him during an operation.

The case concluded just last week in a Minneapolis federal court. The verdict was quickly reached and delivered by the jury, which found in favor of 3M. Jurors were not impressed by arguments of the plaintiff’s legal team that scientific evidence backed the patient. Indeed, it took them less than two hours to conclude that the Bair Hugger was absent any design defect that would reasonably allow for a damage award in the case.

That outcome, while obviously significant on its own terms, spelled a particularly big win for 3M. One national media account of the trial and verdict notes that thousands of other plaintiffs “have filed similar cases against 3M after seeing ads for the litigation on television.” The conclusion in the just-finished first case concerning the Bair Hugger might reasonably influence the future course of litigation regarding allegations of its defective properties.

Again, those were strongly refuted in the Minneapolis case, with no hard evidence ever indicating safety/health issues connected to the Bair Hugger. Reportedly, neither the FDA nor hundreds of doctors who have examined the device have found the device problematic in any respect.

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