The Bair Hugger, a widely used patient warming system from 3M Co., takes center stage in a federal trial scheduled to begin Monday that could affect thousands of patients who came down with serious joint infections after surgery. 

A widely used patient warming system from 3M Co. takes center stage in a federal trial scheduled to begin Monday in Minneapolis that could affect thousands of patients who came down with serious joint infections after surgery.

South Carolina retiree Louis Gareis, 76, says that 3M’s Bair Hugger warming device most likely caused a serious infection in his artificial hip joint by depositing bacteria-laden particles in his surgical wound in 2010. It forced him to have a second surgery two years later to replace the infected implant.

Maplewood-based 3M denies that its device caused Gareis’ injury and argues that no legitimate science shows his theory of the infection is credible.

Expected to last about three weeks, the trial before U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen has been designated a “bellwether” case, the first of more than 4,000 individual lawsuits pending against 3M to go to a jury.

Bellwether trials are commonly used to test arguments in a small number of cases to help determine whether to litigate, settle or drop other lawsuits with similar allegations. That means the Gareis case may affect the thousands of other pending Bair Hugger cases.

By Joe Carlson | StarTribune

Image Credit: 3M

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