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Do You Need to Hire a CPAP Lawyer?

Written by Ankin Law Office

If you suffered damages resulting from a defective CPAP device, then you need a CPAP lawyer. A CPAP lawyer can provide the necessary legal support to move a CPAP lawsuit smoothly and efficiently. The lawyer can evaluate the facts of the case to determine whether the victim has strong grounds for a lawsuit against Philips Respironics, the manufacturer of the recalled CPAP devices. He or she can also compile enough evidence to prove liability and damages. The lawyer ensures the lawsuit is ready before the state-imposed statute of limitations, protecting the victim’s rights to compensation. 

An Overview of Philips CPAP Recall and Lawsuit 

Millions of sleep apnea patients throughout the U.S. use Philips CPAP, BiPAP, or other breathing devices to manage or treat their condition. Philips recalled certain models of its breathing devices, admitting that they could be posing health hazards to users. 

Philips said that the polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam inside these machines could potentially break down over time and release particles into the air pathways of these devices. The foam could expose users to potentially carcinogenic chemicals.

Following the June 2021 recall, affected users started bringing lawsuits against Philips. These users claim that the company knew about these hazards and failed to warn consumers, resulting in various health risks. Many people who used recalled CPAP, BiPAP, and other mechanical ventilators complain of serious illnesses, including cancer and respiratory failure. 

Why Hire a CPAP Lawyer? 

A manufacturer like Philips has a legal duty to manufacture a reasonably safe product that will not harm consumers when used correctly. Proving Philips breached this legal duty is a highly technical and fact-based task that requires the involvement of an aggressive Philips CPAP recall lawyer. The following are key reasons for hiring a CPAP lawyer:

A Comprehensive Understanding of Laws and Regulations 

A lawyer familiar with laws and regulations related to medical devices can review the merits of a CPAP lawsuit. The lawyer can prove the existence of a causal relationship between the user’s illness and the recalled Philips device. The lawyer can also explain the affected user’s rights, available legal options, and the best legal action. 

Completing Legal Paperwork 

The CPAP lawyer can fill out the legal paperwork on behalf of the plaintiff. The lawyer knows which forms to complete and how to get the product liability case ready for court. 

Taking Control of Communications 

Since the Philips recall is setting mass tort actions in motion, several parties may approach the plaintiff in an attempt to settle the matter outside of court. These parties can include insurance adjusters and lawyers of the company. A CPAP lawyer can protect the plaintiff’s case by handling all these communication efforts.  

Assembling all Available Evidence 

Proving liability, causation, and damages is an important part of winning a product liability case, such as a CPAP lawsuit. Philips could have a significant percentage of evidence required to build a strong case. The product blueprints, for instance, might reveal a design or manufacturing defect.

A CPAP lawyer can collect this evidence on the plaintiff’s behalf. The lawyer can also use a subpoena to get evidence the company might be withholding. Assembling all available evidence is instrumental in preventing disputes that could cause lengthy legal procedures and potentially lower settlement amounts. 

Avoiding Costly Blunders 

A recalled CPAP user could make a blunder that might jeopardize an otherwise strong claim. Failing to follow the doctor’s instructions, missing the doctor’s appointments, or failing to adhere to prescriptions could create serious legal issues. 

Giving a recorded statement to the defendant and discussing the case on social media could also compromise the lawsuit. A CPAP recall lawyer can help a plaintiff avoid these common mistakes. The lawyer can guide the plaintiff on how to make sound decisions throughout the legal process. 

Meeting State-Specific Statute of Limitations 

Illinois product liability claims have a statute of limitations of two years. This time limit starts from the date of the injury. Once this time limit expires, the victim may lose the chance to pursue compensation. A CPAP recall lawyer prepares and files a case within that timeframe to protect the injured victim’s rights to compensation. 

Providing Legal Representation in the Courtroom 

CPAP lawsuits throughout the U.S. were combined into a single federal court case known as multi-district litigation (MDL) against Philips in October 2021. The MDL will start with bellwether trials. These trials will evaluate arguments in the case and determine what kinds of compensation and settlement amount the affected plaintiffs could obtain. 

Each plaintiff will file an individual CPAP lawsuit in an MDL. Settlement amounts will depend on the unique facts of each case. The affected plaintiff must work with a CPAP lawyer to prove that the recalled device caused the injuries to increase the odds of receiving maximum compensation. 

The lawyer can assemble relevant information and assess evidence of the plaintiff’s illness associated with the prolonged use of the recalled Philips breathing device. The lawyer can then use the compiled evidence to build a convincing legal argument. 

Pursuing All Available Damages 

By handling the settlement calculations and negotiations without a lawyer, the plaintiff might receive a lower settlement amount. A lawyer who has successfully handled cases involving medical devices before can estimate a reasonable settlement amount in a CPAP lawsuit. The lawyer can also use reliable negotiation tactics to push for fair compensation. 

 What Documents Does a CPAP Lawyer Need? 

The plaintiff must provide documents showing a connection between the injury or illness suffered and the defective Philips device. These documents include: 

  • Medical records: These documents should detail the diagnosis of the plaintiff’s injuries or illness. They should also specify the treatments the plaintiff is receiving. Doctor’s notes, surgical reports, blood test results, discharge instructions, and a list of appointment dates are some examples of medical records. 
  • Health insurance information 
  • Medical bills, including hospital bills, invoices, and prescriptions 
  • Lost wages proof, including payslips and letter from the employer 
  • Proof of purchase of the recalled CPAP device, such as a receipt or bank statement 

Questions Your CPAP Lawyer May Ask

Which Philips device did you use? 

This case involves recalled Philips sleep apnea devices, such as CPAP, BiPAP, or mechanical ventilators. The lawyer would want to know the brand and model of the device that the plaintiff was using before experiencing the symptoms. This information will help the lawyer determine if that device was part of Philips’ recall list. 

Did you report the recalled device to Philips?

The lawyer might ask the plaintiff whether he or she has reported the recalled machine to Philips. The plaintiff’s answer will help the lawyer determine the next course of action. 

Is the recalled device in your possession, or have you already returned it to Philips?

The recalled device itself is important evidence in the CPAP lawsuit. A person with a recalled Philips device should keep the device to use as evidence in potential litigation. If the plaintiff has already surrendered the recalled device, the lawyer will ask if the plaintiff has photos of the device that clearly show the serial number. The lawyer will also want to know if the plaintiff has the device’s instruction manuals and receipts. 

What signs and symptoms did you experience? 

The plaintiff should discuss with the lawyer the signs and symptoms associated with the inhalation or ingestion of toxic particles or gases from the degraded foam that the plaintiff experienced. These signs and symptoms include, but are not limited to, airway irritation and inflammation, cough, headache, dizziness, and skin, and eye irritation. 

Has your doctor diagnosed you with serious injuries related to the recalled CPAP device? 

Many Philips CPAP lawsuits reveal that inhaling or ingesting particles or gases from the degraded foam can cause numerous health problems, ranging from organ damage to cancer. Other serious injuries or illnesses associated with the recalled devices include bladder cancer, kidney/renal disease, leukemia, and Acute Respiratory Distress System (ARDS).

The plaintiff should tell the lawyer whether the doctor has diagnosed him or her with any of these illnesses or any other related health condition. The plaintiff can use medical records and receipts to support his or her answers. 

Have you been suffering from emotional distress? 

The lawyer will want to know whether the plaintiff is experiencing psychological injuries caused by the recalled CPAP device. Emotional distress can come in the form of anxiety, fear, shame, insomnia, and depression. This information will enable the lawyer to ensure the plaintiff is fully compensated for all the damages. 

A plaintiff is likely to encounter the above questions during an initial consultation with a CPAP lawyer. If the plaintiff paints a clear picture of the events leading up to his or her illness and how the recalled Philips device caused it, the session can be informative for both the plaintiff and the lawyer. The plaintiff’s answers could be instrumental in determining the total amount of damages the plaintiff can recover in the lawsuit. 

Preparing a summary in advance can help the plaintiff remember all the crucial details of the claim during his or her session with the CPAP recall lawyer. The lawyer will carefully evaluate the plaintiff’s issues and advise the plaintiff on the best legal action to take. 

How Much Could a Plaintiff Recover in a CPAP Lawsuit

The CPAP litigation is currently in its initial stages. As such, lawyers can just speculate on the settlement amounts that plaintiffs are likely to collect. As mentioned earlier, the bellwether trials in the MDL usually help predict what product liability damages are available to plaintiffs. A CPAP recall lawyer can reasonably estimate the settlement amount that a plaintiff may receive in an MDL after the conclusion of bellwether trials. 

Settlements in product liability cases generally depend on factors like the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, medical expenses, and the amount of evidence compiled. Victims that spend months or years in hospital undergoing cancer treatment, for instance, may pursue a higher settlement amount. 

Damages from a CPAP Lawsuit 

Under product liability laws, a manufacturer of dangerous defective products like Philips is legally responsible for any injuries or illnesses suffered by consumers because of the use of the defective products. These consumers may qualify for the following damages: 

Economic Damages 

Economic damages are also known as “special damages.” They include certain financial losses that the victim suffers after getting injured by the recalled Philips sleep apnea machine. A CPAP recall lawyer can calculate economic damages by reviewing various medical and financial documents. These documents include medical bills, receipts, invoices, payslips, and income statements.

The lawyer can also calculate future economic damages by working closely with medical practitioners and economists. These professionals can provide a reasonable estimate of losses a recalled CPAP user might incur in the future. 

Medical treatment costs, long-term care costs, lost wages and lost or reduced future earning capacity are examples of economic damages that may be available in a CPAP lawsuit. Compensation for the recalled Philips device may also be available to plaintiffs who had purchased the device out of pocket. 

Non-Economic Damages 

Also called “general damages,” non-economic damages compensate the plaintiff for the intangible losses incurred because of the injuries or illnesses caused by the defective device. Unlike economic damages, it is hard to quantify non-economic damages with objective facts and figures. Instead, they are deemed more subjective. 

A lawyer will rely on the plaintiff’s testimony and statements from family members, close friends, neighbors, and workmates to estimate non-economic damages. The testimony and statements will concentrate on the impact of the injury or illness caused by the recalled device on the plaintiff’s life. 

Treating physicians, medical providers, and vocational officers may also testify how the injuries or illnesses will affect the plaintiff’s life. Pain and suffering loss of quality of life and loss of companionship are some of the non-economic damages that might be available to affected users of recalled Philips devices. 

Punitive Damages 

Punitive damages enable juries to punish manufacturers or other wrongdoers for engaging in particularly egregious conduct. These damages also warn others against committing similar acts in the future. If a plaintiff can prove that the CPAP manufacturer intentionally hid evidence of its recalled devices’ threat to public safety, the plaintiff might receive punitive damages. 

Wrongful Damages 

Some users may have already lost their lives due to injuries or illnesses related to the recalled Philips CPAP machines. In this case, the surviving family and loved ones may recover damages on behalf of the deceased person. A CPAP lawyer can help them gather the required evidence and file a compelling wrongful death lawsuit. 

The surviving family might recover various damages, including the costs of funeral and burial arrangements, loss of companionship or consortium, loss of financial support, and loss of inheritance. The surviving family members may also receive compensation for the pain and suffering they endured as they witnessed their loved one’s health deteriorate abruptly.

How to determine if a CPAP Device is Recalled 

Philips CPAP device users should register their devices on the company’s recall website. After registering the device, Philips will notify the user whether the recall notice affects it or not. Individuals with recalled devices should talk to their medical providers regarding safer treatment options.

How Long Was Philips Aware of Issues with CPAP Foam 

Philips was aware of the issues with degraded CPAP foam years before it issued a recall notice. An inspection report released by FDA in November 2021 outlined a history of complaints the company ignored. 

In an email exchange with a supplier of raw foam in October 2015, Philips admitted that the PE-PUR foam had degraded. Philips acknowledged in an April 2018 email that it was aware of the reports of degraded foam seeping into equipment or users’ airways. 

In June 2018, a breathing device failure led to a field repair. Lab tests and analysis found mutagens, cytotoxins, carcinogens, and non-biocompatible compounds on the affected part. 

The FDA reviewed complaints and concerns that Philips had received from consumers from January 2008 to November 2021. It found more than 222,000 complaints consisting of words, such as “contaminate, foam, airpath, particulates, and debris.” 

Potential Legal Arguments for a Philips CPAP Lawsuit 

The following legal arguments may help a CPAP recall lawyer prove that a recalled Philips CPAP device contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries or illness: 

Negligent Design

An error during the design stage can introduce a defect in a product. Although the product is working properly, the design defect might pose safety and health risks to users. A lawyer can prove the manufacturer violated the duty of care by demonstrating that the recalled device posed an unnecessary risk of predictable injury. 

Negligent Manufacturing 

This legal argument will focus specifically on the recalled device. To prove negligence, the lawyer must show that Philips failed to remove the undue risk of injury when developing the breathing device in question. 

Fraud 

Fraud in product liability cases arises when a manufacturer makes one or more false statements about a product. To prove this legal argument, the lawyer must show that the manufacturer persuaded the plaintiff to purchase the defective device by making false claims.