Some attorneys speculate that victims of illnesses resulting from the use of recalled Philips continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines may reach settlement amounts of around $100,000 to $500,000, but it’s still unknown exactly how much these settlements will be worth.
Why Are People Filing Philips CPAP Lawsuits?
Recently, Philips has recalled its line of CPAP, BiPAP, and ventilator devices due to the carcinogenic nature of their polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) sound abatement foam content. This foam aimed to help reduce noise and vibration when using Philips devices, but certain chemicals and particles it can produce have caused cancers and other illnesses in many patients with sleep apnea.
According to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) communication, the reason PE-PUR is unsafe is that it often begins to break down when using a CPAP or BiPAP device, causing it to enter the airway. Normally, PE-PUR is harmless, but it forms black debris in the foam or certain types of chemicals, which people may ingest or inhale.
The FDA also found that ultraviolet (UV) light or ozone gas used to clean CPAP devices could also contribute to certain health issues. The agency even discovered that storing these devices in humid or high-temperature settings could cause further degradation to the PE-PUR foam. This shows how many ways these devices were susceptible to PE-PUR foam breakdown.
The recall for these potentially harmful devices began in June 2021 and involved millions of devices. Later that year, Philips announced that it would begin to repair or replace the recalled devices, indicating that the process would take more than a year to complete. However, the FDA also discovered that the foam used in replacement devices could pose a risk to patients, and they found that Philips was aware of the issues with its existing devices as early as 2015.
Injuries Named in CPAP Lawsuits
The breakdown of PE-PUR foam in Philips CPAP devices has caused a wide range of health issues, with lawsuits claiming that this material causes a variety of cancers and damage to organs.
Some of the many injuries named in these lawsuits include:
- Acute Respiratory Distress System (ARDS)
- Lung disease
- Bladder cancer
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Liver cancer
- Chemical poisoning
Other injuries and illnesses are as follows: brain cancer, heart attack and failure, breast cancer, kidney cancer, kidney/renal damage and disease, hematopoietic cancer, leukemia, liver damage and disease, lung cancer, lymphatic cancer, nasal cancer, multiply myeloma, papillary carcinoma, prostate cancer, rectal cancer, reactive airway disease (RAD), pleural effusion, respiratory failure, stomach cancer, thyroid cancer, and testicular cancer. Additionally, some patients have reported severe inflammation of the ears, nose, and throat.
Symptoms of Dangerous Exposure Levels
Philips conducted tests that discovered how degraded PE-PUR foam could release a variety of chemicals, some of which are highly toxic. These chemicals include isocyanates, such as toluene diisocyanate, along with toluene diamine, dimethyl diazine, diethylene glycol, and phenol.
All of these chemicals can cause a range of symptoms in people who consume or inhale them. These symptoms may include: asthma, airway inflammation and irritation, sinus infection, cough, chest pressure, carcinogenic effects, headache, dizziness, upper airway irritation, inflammatory response, hypersensitivity, irritation of the respiratory tract, irritation of the skin and eyes, and damage to organs such as the liver and kidney.
If individuals experience any of these symptoms after using Philips CPAP machines or other dangerous defective products, it’s important to speak with a medical professional. A physician may be able to make a diagnosis that’s linked to the use of a defective CPAP machine.
The Devices Involved in the Recall
Philips recalled many types of CPAP, BiPAP, and ventilator devices due to the toxicity of their sound abatement foam content.
These devices include: A-Series BiPAP V30 Auto Ventilator, DreamStation ASV, Dorma 400 and 500 CPAPs, SystemOne ASV4 and Q Series, Trilogy 100 and 200 Ventilators, REMStar SE Auto CPAP, E30, OmniLab Advanced Plus In-Lab Titration Device, and several others.
Users of Philips devices can visit the company website to see a full list of all recalled devices. Visitors can simply enter their devices’ serial numbers to determine whether they’re involved in the recall.
CPAP Lawsuits Settlement and Verdicts
Although it’s still unknown exactly how much compensation victims of illnesses associated with recalled Philips CPAP machines will be able to receive, the Philips CPAP lawsuits are in the beginning stages. At this point, juries have reached no verdicts and the courts haven’t awarded any settlements. A large number of CPAP, BiPAP, and other similar devices recalled means that there will likely be many lawsuits in the near future.
At this time, there are over 100 federal lawsuits in motion against Philips due to the illnesses resulting from the use of their CPAP devices. These will likely turn into a “global settlement” in the form of a class-action lawsuit.
Philips CPAP Class Action Lawsuit
As mentioned, the lawsuits against Philips are in their early stages. However, they’re likely to follow a similar trajectory to other types of tort medical device lawsuits. As of October 8, 2021, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) allowed for the consolidation of over 110 federal lawsuits filed against Philips for its potentially harmful CPAP devices.
Following consolidation of these lawsuits, a consolidated discovery process will begin, which may take as long as two years to complete. It will entail collecting sufficient evidence that helps prove that patients’ ailments resulted from the use of Philips CPAP devices and the harmful foam they contain.
After this discovery period, certain bellwether trials will take place, which are test cases pulled from a large number of lawsuits against a single entity like Philips. In the process, these trials will help determine how much compensation to award victims who sustained injuries, illnesses, and other damages from defective CPAP devices.
If the bellwether trials culminate in large settlements, Philips would be responsible for paying the full amount, at which point each victim would receive a share of the settlement.
Potential Settlement Compensation
It’s still not entirely clear how large the CPAP lawsuit settlement amounts will be by the end of the class action lawsuit against Philips. Some attorneys have predicted that the total amount could be anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 at the top tier, with Tier II settlements amounting to $60,000 to $90,000 and Tier III falling within $10,000 to $30,000. However, it’s still subject to speculation this early on in the case.
Generally, jury verdicts that result during bellwether trials will help indicate how much each case is worth. On the other hand, cases may settle before they ever reach the trial process. At this time, there are no official trial dates in place.
Damages Recoverable in Philips CPAP Lawsuits
Like other types of personal injury and product liability cases, plaintiffs will be able to file for a variety of damages. These could include a number of both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages, also known as special damages, are those that involve a specific dollar amount and are more objective in nature. For instance, some economic damages may include medical bills, ongoing treatment costs, lost wages due to time taken off from work to recover, lost earning capacity due to disability, physical therapy, and others.
Meanwhile, non-economic or general damages are more subjective and vary from person to person based on personal experience. They’re harder to quantify because they don’t have a specific amount of money attached to them. Some of these damages could include the pain and suffering that patients experience due to their illnesses, loss of enjoyment of life, or loss of consortium, which is the loss of a relationship to a certain extent due to injury or wrongful death.
In rare cases, punitive damages may apply. These damages aim to prevent individuals or entities from committing particularly egregious acts in the future by setting an example. They’re specifically intended to punish the defendant as opposed to rewarding the plaintiff. If the court determines that Philips exhibited gross negligence in the way it handled its device recall, repairs, and replacements, plaintiffs may be able to recover these damages.
The specific damages involved will determine in each case. An attorney can help determine what product liability damages are available to victims based on their personal experiences.
Who Qualifies to File a CPAP Lawsuit?
Individuals who either personally used one of the defective Philips devices and suffered related side effects and illnesses or lost loved ones due to injuries sustained may qualify to file a CPAP lawsuit against Philips.
There are many types of illnesses and injuries that can develop from the use of defective Philips CPAP devices. If patients aren’t sure whether they are eligible to recover compensation and file a lawsuit, they can speak with a CPAP recall lawyer to determine what options are available to them.
Why Individuals Should File Lawsuits
If a recalled Philips CPAP machine has caused injuries, illness, or wrongful death, victims or their loved ones may be able to seek compensation through a lawsuit. A qualified attorney can help determine whether individuals have viable cases in a free consultation, after which they may be able to provide representation throughout the litigation process.
It’s important for prospective claimants to keep in mind that, like other cases, the Philips CPAP lawsuits have certain statutes of limitations in place. This means that individuals have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit and recover compensation. In these specific cases, the statute of limitations will vary from state to state, with the length of time to sue being anywhere from one to six years.
The statute of limitations for Philips cases may begin as of June 14, 2021, which is when Philips announced the recall and made consumers aware of the potential harm their devices can cause. Generally, the statute of limitations would begin when individuals first became aware of the dangers these devices posed.
The Filing Process
If someone has used or has had a loved one pass following the use of a recalled Philips CPAP device, it’s important to speak with an attorney to seek representation in a potential lawsuit. An experienced attorney who has handled product liability cases in the past may be able to discuss a potential case and determine what types of compensation victims are able to receive.
Even if an individual believes their health issues are minor and that symptoms aren’t severe enough to qualify for compensation, the fact is that these issues could become more serious later. Any users of recalled CPAP devices should consult with a physician to check their respiratory and other systems for potential injury and illness. Seeing a physician will also help generate medical records and bills, which will provide a degree of evidence to support a lawsuit.
When filing a lawsuit against Philips, it will be necessary to collect as much evidence as possible. Gathering medical records that help prove that defective CPAP devices caused a certain type of injury or illness will be time-consuming and challenging. An attorney can help navigate the process by obtaining copies of medical records and other evidence, which could take as long as months.
Based on the evidence recovered, attorneys can help determine whether symptoms experienced and diagnosed injuries resulted from the use of a recalled Philips CPAP device. From there, the attorney may choose to provide representation and seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages.
Seeking Compensation for Damages from Recalled Philips CPAP Devices
At this point, CPAP lawsuit settlement amounts aren’t clear. Although there are some potential numbers that attorneys have estimated, the amounts could vary depending on how cases proceed. In the meantime, individuals or loved ones of those injured due to the use of recalled Philips devices can determine how much compensation is available to them based on the damages sustained. Settlement amounts will ultimately depend on the level of negligence involved and the severity of the damages that victims suffered due to the use of these defective devices.