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Is There a Class Action Lawsuit Against Phillips CPAP Machines?

People that rely on Philip’s CPAP machines for treatment for sleep apnea and other ailments may have been shocked by the FDA recall of more than a dozen of their devices. In June of 2021, Philips Respironics machines that deliver pressurized air were recalled because of the potential health risks due to the degradation of polyester-based polyurethane foam used in components that dampens the sound of the machine and reduces vibration. 

The Food and Drug Administration warns that the potential health risks could be life-threatening, cause permanent impairment, and require medical intervention. Victims may ask, “Is there a class action lawsuit against Phillips CPAP machines?” The answer to that question is “yes.” Since June, there has been a flurry of different lawyers filing claims for victims, and a class action lawsuit was filed in Massachusetts. However, in October of 2021, a multidistrict litigation (MDL) panel decided to move the class action to Pennsylvania. 

An MDL consolidates complex product liability litigation for several reasons. It makes it easier for the courts, plaintiffs, and defendants. Large numbers of claims can clog up the courts, so it makes sense for people that have used the same product and have suffered similar injuries to be represented in a class action. An MDL helps plaintiffs and defendants by avoiding a repetitive discovery process and prevents judges in multiple districts from delivering conflicting rulings. It’s estimated that the recall has impacted 2 million people in the U.S.

What’s the problem with the polyester-based polyurethane foam used in Philips devices?

The polyester-based polyurethane foam (PE-PUR) has shown that the material can degrade over time into particles that can enter Philip’s breathing device’s air pathway. The particles can then be ingested or inhaled by the user. Furthermore, testing has shown that the foam may off-gas certain chemicals. The machines impacted are some of the Bi-Level Positive Airway Pressure (Bi-Level PAP), Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), and mechanical ventilator devices.

The degradation can be accelerated when users use unapproved cleaning methods like ozone and U.V. light products. High heat and humid environments may also cause quicker degradation of the PE-PUR components. As of yet, there are no deaths attributed to particulate or gas exposure. However, the FDA recognizes that people who have been exposed to the particulates can suffer headaches, inflammation, respiratory issues, and possible toxic and carcinogenic effects. The long-term effects are as of yet unknown. Gas exposure can cause headaches, hypersensitivity, irritation, nausea, and vomiting, as well as possible toxic and carcinogenic effects. According to Philips, most of the affected devices are first-generation DreamStation products. 

What is Philips doing about replacing their defective devices?

In September 2021, Philips obtained FDA authorization to begin repairing first-generation DreamStation devices. The company had already begun to replace machines with a newer product. Still, the sheer number of affected users has made it difficult, particularly with the supply chain issues, manufacturing constraints, and worker scarcity brought on by Covid. Philips doesn’t expect to complete the replacement or repair of affected products until September 2022.

Why did Philips wait so long for a recall?

Unfortunately, recalls are nothing new. Most product manufacturers try to make good products so they can make money and stay in business. But when a company knows something is wrong with their product and sits on that information, especially when it comes to their customer’s health, that’s malicious.

The lawsuits keep coming, and early plaintiffs are accusing Philips of being unreasonably slow in the recall. The company disclosed there were known issues with their products in April but didn’t initiate a recall until seven weeks later. Furthermore, there is evidence they had been receiving complaints about the particle issue, perhaps even for years, and still did nothing. 

Additionally, the public announcement concerning the dangers of PE-PUR foam suspiciously coincided with the release of the Philips Respironics DreamStation 2, a breathing machine that was manufactured without the PE-PUR foam. The implication here is that they delayed in an effort to retain their customer base rather than lose potential business to a competitor. Another implication in the delay is that they understood there had to be a replacement device ready. Otherwise, the fallout would cause an even bigger public relations nightmare if their customers had no alternatives.

What are the grounds for Philips class action lawsuits?

In class action product liability cases, the difficult part is always proving the product causes harm. In the Philips class action lawsuits, the proof isn’t going to be a problem. The company clearly knew there was a problem with the sound abatement foam for some time before taking any action. Their own research showed the foam emitted harmful chemicals like toluene diamine, toluene diisocyanate, and diethylene glycol.

 Exposure to these chemicals can cause: 

  • Skin, eye, nose, and respiratory tract irritation
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Toxic effects
  • Carcinogenic effects

Exposure to PE-PUR foam particulates can cause:

  • Headaches
  • Upper airway irritation
  • Cough
  • Chest pressure
  • Sinus infection
  • Skin, eye, nose, and respiratory tract irritation
  • Inflammatory response
  • Asthma
  • Toxic effect to organs such as kidney and liver
  • Carcinogenic impact on organs such as kidney and liver

The consequences of exposure can include life-threatening effects, permanent impairment and may require medical intervention to prevent permanent impairment. 

What questions will our CPAP lawyers ask you?

When you contact us about a potential CPAP class action lawsuit, our lawyers will have some qualifying questions for you about your use of a recalled device and your medical experiences. Be sure to collect evidence like your medical records and any medical-related bills, receipts, and other expenses.

Which recalled Philips device did you use? The class actions focus on the recalled devices, so be sure you know the brand and model of the machine. Here is a list of the recalled machines that were marketed in the U.S.:

Continuous Ventilator, Minimum Ventilatory Support, Facility Use
E30 (Emergency Use Authorization)

Continuous Ventilator, Non-life Supporting
DreamStation ASV
DreamStation ST, AVAPS
SystemOne ASV4
C Series ASV, S/T, AVAPS
OmniLab Advanced Plus In-Lab Titration Device

Non-continuous Ventilator
SystemOne (Q Series)
DreamStation (CPAP, Auto CPAP, BiPAP)
DreamStation Go (CPAP, APAP)
Dorma 400, 500 CPAP
REMstar SE Auto CPAP

Continuous Ventilator
Trilogy 100 Ventilator
Trilogy 200 Ventilator
Garbin Plus, Aeris, LifeVent Ventilator
Continuous Ventilator, Minimum Ventilatory Support, Facility Use
A-Series BiPAP V30 Auto Ventilator

Do you still have your recalled device? As the machine itself is evidence, it’s important that you retain your device.

What serious injury or illness are you experiencing you believe is related to the Philips machine? Suppose your doctor has diagnosed you with breathing problems, cancer, or organ damage. In that case, it’s critical to have medical documentation as evidence. Make sure to have your medical records available for our lawyers to review.

What symptoms are you experiencing? We will need to know about other problems you’ve had, such as headaches, sinus infections, asthma, or other breathing issues.

How long were you using the device? Suppose you were diagnosed with cancer or other serious illnesses prior to or just after starting to use Philips CPAP machines. In that case, it will be unlikely we could connect the two. However, if you are experiencing other possible side effects, there may still be a way to receive compensation.

What kind of compensation can you expect from a class action lawsuit against Philips CPAP machines?

The litigation against Philips Respironics is still in the infant stages, so it’s hard to speculate on the amount of compensation a plaintiff can expect. The most serious injuries are likely to be respiratory problems, cancers, and organ damage. However, it is our experience in cases such as this that plaintiffs can be awarded anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000. If it can be proven that Philips acted maliciously, punitive damages could be awarded, which can increase settlements dramatically. 

Successful claims can include compensation for the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future income
  • Future medical treatments
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages (possibly)

What are the pros and cons of joining a class action lawsuit against Philips CPAP machines?

If you’re asking the question, “Is there a class action lawsuit against Philips CPAP machines,” then you must already be interested in joining. However, there are some pros and cons to look over. 

The pros: 

Class actions do provide significant advantages because you have more power in a group. A class action is in itself a support group where people can compare evidence and discuss injuries which may help bolster the case. 

Since class actions involve many plaintiffs, the cost for legal counsel is almost negligible since it’s spread out among the members of the class. The amount that lawyers receive is decided by the judge presiding over the case and therefore always kept in check.

Class actions also help the judicial system by consolidating many individual cases into one, which can expedite the entire process.

Guaranteed settlements are another advantage, even though they may not be as much as an individual lawsuit. Class actions ensure that every member of the class gets some compensation, even those with minor injuries. However, many class actions have tiers for compensation. Those having the most severe injuries will receive more than those that do not. Furthermore, when filing an individual case, you run the risk that the defendant will run out of money before your case even makes it to court.

The cons:

A class action does not afford class members the same level of say on the amount of the settlement. It does not allow class members to testify or even be in the courtroom. The exception is if you are the lead plaintiff filing the class action. The class is represented by a single representative who makes decisions that will benefit the class as a whole. 

An individual lawsuit can be resolved quicker than a class action which can drag on for years due to the immensity of the lawsuit. With so many plaintiffs, complications can arise. If you need immediate relief to pay medical bills or are fearful you will not survive your injuries, a class action may not be your best choice.

There is no recourse in a class action should the judge side with the defendant. There are strict policies governing class actions that dictate that members cannot appeal individually or as a class if the judgment is against the class.

What can Morgan & Morgan lawyers do for me?

Our lawyers are ready to talk to you if you believe you were injured due to a faulty Philips CPAP machine. We have attorneys available no matter what part of the country you live in and are experienced in class actions and also personal injury lawsuits should you want to file an individual case. Our law firm is one of the largest in the U.S., with over 700 trial-ready attorneys, an immense support system, and legal staff to help with your case. 

We handle every case with compassion and make sure you are treated with dignity and respect, just as we would our own family. We believe you should be compensated for your injuries and are prepared to fight to make sure you are made whole. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to see if you’re eligible for a Philips CPAP claim. 

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