3M is Defendant in Lawsuit Over Faulty Dialysis Filters - St. Paul Pioneer Press - November 14, 2001

3M is Defendant in Lawsuit Over Faulty Dialysis Filters By: Kevin Maler
St. Paul Pioneer Press
November 14, 2001

Attorneys suing Baxter International over a faulty dialyzer responsible for more than 50 deaths switched course over the weekend and decided to include 3M Co. -- which made a fluid that's apparently responsible for the deaths -- as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Kenneth B. Moll & Associates, based in Chicago, filed suit Tuesday against Baxter and 3M in Cook County (Ill.) Circuit Court over the faulty dialyzers, a complex filter that is used in dialysis. As late as Friday, the firm had said it did not plan to include 3M in the suit.

"It basically comes down to what did 3M know and when did they know it," said Hal Kleinman, an attorney with Kenneth B. Moll. "All the fingers keep pointing to this fluid." After first planning not to sue 3M, Kleinman said, the firm's attorneys "discussed it further and decided to add them in."

Baxter said earlier this month that its dialyzers were responsible for the deaths of dozens of dialysis patients. The Chicago-based health care giant specifically blamed the residue of a 3M fluid, called 5070, which Baxter used for testing and for some reason remained in the filter.

A 3M spokesman said Tuesday the firm doesn't comment on litigation. A 3M official said earlier this month that the firm was unaware until very recently that Baxter was using the fluid and noted that the chemical, a perfluorohydrocarbon, is generally used by the electronics manufacturing industry. A label warns that it's not for use as a medical device, the official said.

Kleinman acknowledged that by naming 3M as a defendant his firm will have better access to its documents in discovery -- something he says is necessary to understand its role. "I would say if the evidence shows 3M is not liable, I am sure they will be out of the case. At this point, we have a good-faith belief that they do belong. If evidence shows otherwise, I'm sure that they won't be," he said.