One of the largest manufacturers of CPAP breathing machines, Philips Respironics, has been plagued by issues related to defects in their machines. After an initial recall related to a design defect that caused cancer and respiratory issues, Philips bungled the repair work and was forced to issue a second recall. They are now facing a slew of product liability lawsuits related to their negligence that has brought financial, physical, and emotional harm to CPAP users. To address this, Philips Respironics has set aside a sum of 630 million dollars with the intention to settle with a subset of plaintiffs in the CPAP machine lawsuits.
If you have been harmed as a result of using a defective CPAP machine, you should discuss your claim with a reputable personal injury attorney who has experience in negotiating mass tort product liability claims. A product liability attorney can offer expert advice, represent your interests in negotiations, and lend your claim credibility. They can also shed light on the personal injury claims process, particularly how joining a multidistrict litigation can impact how your case is handled.
Philips Recalls Defective CPAP Machines Over Deterioring Foam
Philips Respironics manufactures CPAP breathing machines, which are used to treat sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea may stop breathing multiple times throughout the night, often leading to fatigue, heart issues, and other serious health conditions like Type 2 diabetes. CPAP machines are equipped with polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam as a noise-damping measure.
The Philips Respironics CPAP machines were recalled in 2021 because the foam breaks down in the humid environment created by the machine, and can also be compromised by the recommended cleaning solutions. The foam flakes then enter the user's airways, causing all kinds of health issues. It has recently been revealed that Philips Respironics knew about this defect for 6 years before issuing the recall.
CPAP users claim that the PE-PUR foam defect is responsible for a number of serious health conditions, including:
- Mouth cancer
- Tongue cancer
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
- Brain cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Organ damages
- Respiratory issues
Philips Respironics Issues Second Recall After Redistribution Error
When the recalled devices were redistributed after undergoing repairs, the serial numbers were assigned incorrectly which led to users receiving devices with the wrong settings programmed into them. In effect, CPAP users received incorrect treatments, or no assistance from the CPAP machine at all. This can be incredibly dangerous for people with sleep apnea because without the machine they may be left without oxygen for prolonged periods as they sleep. Philips Respironics was forced to issue a second recall of their CPAP machines.
Massive Reserve for CPAP Plaintiffs Indicates Philips is Acknowleding Liability
Royal Philips, the parent company of Philips Respironics, has released its report containing its first-quarter earnings for 2023. In this report, the company has allocated 630 million dollars to address the CPAP lawsuits related to the defective PE-PUR foam. The 630 million dollars is designated to compensate plaintiffs who are only seeking economic damages and medical monitoring because they have been subject to an increased risk of injury, but have yet to incur an injury. The Philips Respironics CEO anticipates that this subset of claims will be settled by the end of 2023.
Overall, Philips Respironics is losing a significant amount of money as a result of the recalls and CPAP lawsuits. Philips had already created a 1 billion dollar fund to account for the cost of recalling, repairing, and replacing thousands of CPAP machines. The company now faces additional expenses in the form of legal fees and settlements as the CPAP lawsuits proceed.
Beyond the new 630 million dollar fund, Philips Respironics is potentially liable for a much larger sum. The 630 million dollar set-aside announced in 2023 doesn’t even address the damages of the personal injury lawsuits filed by plaintiffs who have developed cancer or other health issues related to the PE-PUR foam defect. The CPAP lawsuits are currently being handled as a multidistrict litigation overseen by Senior U.S. District Judge Conti in the Western District of Pennslyvania. According to Philips CEO, Roy Jakobs, the company intends to settle the claims from injured plaintiffs in 2024.
Recovering Compensation in a CPAP Lawsuit
The economic loss class action lawsuits are focused on recovering compensation for monetary losses, such as medical bills and the cost of repairing or replacing their defective CPAP machine. The plaintiffs in these claims are not claiming that they have been injured, but that Philips Respironics’ negligence has caused them financial harm and may cause them additional physical harm in the future. It will still be necessary for them to establish negligence, but Philip's preemptive creation of a 630 million dollar funny indicates their willingness to settle.
Other individual CPAP lawsuits are pursuing compensation for a larger scope of damages. These personal injury lawsuits may seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages related to their injuries. Economic damages refer to financial costs resulting from an injury, and non-economic damages offer monetary reimbursement for emotional losses.
For example, a cancer patient may have to take a leave of absence from their job, meaning they miss critical meetings that would have advanced their career. Additionally, they lose paychecks and require the assistance of a caregiver. The loss of income combined with the additional expenses of treating cancer can jeopardize their family’s financial future and harm their mental health. In this scenario, the injured person would likely claim both economic and non-economic damages.
Examples of Damages in a CPAP Lawsuit:
- Medical bills
- Lab tests
- Radiation therapy
- Hospital stays
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Job-related losses
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Missed promotions
- Wrongful death
- Loss of services and support
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of parental guidance and instruction
- Funeral and burial expenses
CPAP users who have used defective devices may be entitled to seek compensation for their damages in a CPAP machine lawsuit. This is most effectively accomplished with the legal insight and resources of a qualified product liability attorney. Product liability lawyers have the negotiating experience and knowledge necessary to maximize your compensation and hold Philips Respironics accountable for their negligence in a CPAP machine lawsuit.