Evidence in Support of US Proceedings: Summary Judgment in Bair Hugger Litigation

21 August, 2019

Richard Hoyle appeared for 3M and Arizant Healthcare in securing the enforcement of several Letters of Request under the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad, against a number of leading medical practitioners in the UK who had either participated in or conducted medical studies related to the use of a medical warming device known as the Bair Hugger. After first resolving whether the practitioners should be regarded as factual or expert witnesses, and the circumstances in which it would be appropriate to compel such witnesses, the Senior Master granted orders requiring them to give depositions and provide documents for use in the underlying US proceedings.

In those proceedings, more than 5,000 personal injury claims were consolidated in a Multi-District Litigation before the US District Court for the District of Minnesota, it being alleged that the use of the Bair Hugger had caused infections to patients whilst performing its warming function, inter alia by triggering the circulation of contaminated air in operating theatres which then fell into the wounds of patients. The Defendants, 3M and Arizant Healthcare, argued that there was no causal connection between the use of the Bair Hugger and the post-operative infections, and that some of the research which was relied upon to support the plaintiffs’ case had been funded or backed by the inventor of a rival medical warming device known as the Hot Dog, in part to improve the sales of that device.

The US District Court has now rejected the plaintiffs’ causation theory, excluding their expert witnesses and granting summary judgment in favour of 3M and Arizant Healthcare.

Richard was instructed by Stephen Llewellyn at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP.