In 2019, a relatively small Minneapolis law firm, Blackwell Burke, won a landmark victory for 3M Co. in one of the largest multidistrict litigation cases in history. A federal court dismissed all of the federal lawsuits (more than 5,000) against 3M’s Bair Hugger system, which is used to warm patients before, during and after surgery. After more than six years of litigation, the court rejected plaintiff s’ attorneys’ claims that the warming system was responsible for infections suffered by patients during surgery.
Jerry Blackwell, who co-founded the firm in 2006, led the trial team and argued the successful motion to bar the plaintiff s’ experts.
Blackwell says the major turning point in the litigation was the first — and only — bellwether trial in May 2019: “We were faced with very capable opposing counsel, including other attorneys who are being honored this year as Attorneys of the Year. This is a case about science, and both sides had to present difficult scientific concepts to the jurors. The testimony from the trial was a big part of our request to the court to take a second look at whether there was reliable science supporting the plaintiff s’ case.”
Blackwell Burke’s team also included partners Benjamin W. Hulse, Mary S. Young, Corey L. Gordon, Deborah E. Lewis, and former partner Peter J. Goss; special counsels Monica L. Davies and Micah M. Hines; associates Charmaine K. Harris, Ted Hartman, Vinita Banthia, Amarachi Ihejirika, and former associate Patrick Hauswald; paralegals Katrina St. Clair, Desweon Hinds, and Jallison Hubbard; case assistant Kristie Haralson; and legal secretaries Cyndee Krenos and Stephanie Luitjens. In addition, the Blackwell Burke team partnered with attorneys from Mitchell Williams, and a Faegre Baker Daniels team.
Jerry Blackwell is a Circle of Excellence Attorney of the Year.
Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2019 here.
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