In an order issued on October 27, Minnesota federal judge Joan N. Ericksen denied a couple's motion for a new trial in the first Bair Hugger bellwether case against 3M. The order stated that the court did not exclude evidence that would have helped the plaintiff prove the design defect in the warming blanket.
The plaintiff, Louis Gareis, from South Carolina sought to admit the evidence of the defendant's "knowledge of risk-utility." However, under South Carolina law, the focus in a strict liability "centers upon the alleged defectively designed product’’ and not the manufacturer's mental state. Plaintiff’s claims of negligence, failure to warn, deceptive trade practices, and misrepresentation were all dismissed on summary judgment in June 2018. Gareis suffered a deep joint infection in 2010 for which he underwent a total right knee replacement surgery when a 3M Bair Hugger warming blanket was used. In the lawsuit filed against 3M, Gareis blamed the defective design of the product which required him to undergo several antipsychotic treatments and revision surgery.
The second bellwether trial begins in December 2018, involving claims by Kurtis Skarr and his wife, Debbie, of Idaho. More than 4,467 hip and knee infection lawsuits are filed against the Bair Hugger warming blanket maker. Similar cases are consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL 15-2666; In Re: Forced Air Warming Devices Products Liability Litigation) in the District of Minnesota.