The US Court of Appeals reinstated, this week, almost 6,000 products liability lawsuits filed against 3M relating to a surgical device that was meant to keep patients warm but instead allegedly caused them to develop infections, reports Jurist.
It writes that 3Mʼs Bair Hugger device is a convective patient-warming device used during surgery to decrease bleeding, speed up recovery time, and decrease the risk of infection. The plaintiffs in the case, who all formerly underwent surgery, claimed to have contracted infections because of the device.
In 2019, a district judge excluded the plaintiffsʼ general causation medical experts and an engineering expert. The judge then granted summary judgment to 3M as to all of the claims.
On Monday, the appeals court stated that the trial court judge wrongly excluded the testimony from the medical experts that supported the plaintiffsʼ claims. All of the experts relied on a 2011 observational epidemiological study and the district judge found that the experts failed to bridge a gap left by the study. However, the appeals court determined that the experts additionally relied on other studies and reports, and their failure to handle the studyʼs limitations was not “fatal to the admissibility of their opinions”.
Similarly, the court found that the trial court abused its discretion through its general exclusion of other expert testimony. Thus, the court reversed in full the exclusion of the general causation experts and in part the exclusion of the engineering expert.
This effectively reinstates almost 6,000 lawsuits against 3M for the Bair Hugger device. However, 3M says the company is “confident in [its] case and will continue to vigorously defend [itself].”
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