Philips Respironics Reaches Preliminary Settlement in CPAP Litigation

Philips Respironics Reaches Preliminary Settlement in CPAP Litigation

In January 2021, Philips Respironics, the manufacturer of common CPAP and BiPAP machines, issued a recall of millions of its devices, citing the potential health risks caused by the inhalation and ingestion of toxic foams they contained. The move prompted Food and Drug Administration CPAP investigations, recalls, and the proliferation of sleep apnea machine product liability lawsuits. 

The majority of the individual CPAP lawsuits have been consolidated into a sprawling multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court, Western Pennsylvania. Earlier this month, Philips reached a preliminary settlement payout of $479 million to cover the economic costs associated with the replacement of its machines. Nevertheless, the litigation is far from over, and the potential future payouts are likely to be considerably higher. 

Philips CPAP Lawsuit Settlement Covers Replacement Costs After Recalls

The early September announcement that Philips Respironics had reached a preliminary CPAP settlement of $479 million for plaintiffs in the MDL signaled a positive development in the pending defective CPAP machine lawsuits. The subsidiary company of the Netherlands-based Royal Philips released a statement outlining the specifics of the agreement, while eschewing “liability, wrongdoing, or fault by any of the Philips parties”. 

For eligible claimants, predefined cash awards have been designated on the basis of machine design and type, extended warranties for replacement devices, and additional reimbursement if an individual returns his sleep apnea model to the manufacturer. Royal Philips anticipates minor fluctuations in the final price of the settlement, contingent on the number of eligible and willing litigants and the Court’s determination. 

The proposed settlement structure is subject to the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania’s approval, and the body reserves the right to award additional compensation for “professional fees relating to resolutions”. It remains to be seen when the payouts will begin, but Royal Philips predicts a starting date somewhere in the first quarter of 2024. 

The Background of the Philips CPAP PE-PUR Lawsuits

Philips Respironics has become one of the most dominant companies in the sleep apnea devices market, producing tens of millions of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP), and continuous ventilators for consumers. One reason why Philips Respironics has enjoyed such success is because of its unique device designs, which decrease noise production and vibrations that prove bothersome to the users of less advanced machines. 

Unfortunately, the sound abatement foam which Philips employs to silence its sleep apnea machines has a tendency to disintegrate and enter the airflow and airways of users. The inhalation and ingestion of polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) may result in serious medical conditions ranging from respiratory problems to an assortment of cancers. 

Sleep Apnea Defective Product Lawsuits Overwhelm Philips Respironics

When Philips issued a voluntary recall of over 15 million of its machines beginning in June 2021 and the FDA subsequently investigated the company, revelations about what Philips executives knew concerning the defective design of CPAP and BiPAP machines and their potential to have severe side effects shocked users and the public alike. It appeared that Philips Respironics and, potentially, its European parent company knew that their products actively endangered users as early as 2015 and, definitively, by 2020. 

The Food and Drug Administration eventually established a CPAP medical device report (MDR) portal for users of sleep apnea machines to submit statements about complications they had experienced from prolonged use of Philips’s products. Tens of thousands of these reports eventually translated into hundreds of product liability lawsuits brought against Philips Respironics. 

Fundamentally, the CPAP recall lawsuits address Philips Respironics’s “failure to warn” users of the risks they incurred from the use of its popular sleep apnea machines. The magnitude and nationwide scope of the sleep apnea lawsuits resulted in the creation of a Philips Respironics multidistrict litigation in October 2021. 

FDA States BiPAP and CPAP Machines Linked to Cancer and Respiratory Problems

In November 2021, the  U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a revised safety communication explicitly addressing the potential health consequences associated with the use of Philips’s CPAP, BiPAP, and continuous ventilator machines. The FDA’s CPAP letter is primarily concerned with outlining the defective design of the sleep apnea devices and updating the recall and replace protocol it had released in June of the same year. 

With respect to reworked Trilogy 100 and Trilogy 200 ventilators, the FDA states that even those machines which Philips had returned after replacing the polyurethane foam with silicone-based material had the potential to disintegrate and cause health complications. 

The FDA has also announced that of the 100,000+ medical reports it has received through its online submission portal 385 allege incidents of death which might have been caused by exposure to the toxic gasses or chemicals contained within Philips Respironics’s CPAP and sleep apnea machines. 

Eligibility for Philips CPAP Lawsuit

Generally speaking, qualifications to file a CPAP lawsuit against Philips Respironics include the possession and use of one of the sleep apnea machines recalled in June 2021 and the development of a condition connected to the inhalation or ingestion of polyurethane foam. In product liability lawsuits, the evidentiary standard is lower than in criminal cases and requires that you prove that your injury was “more likely than not” to have been caused by a defective device. 

The nearly 600 CPAP lawsuits that have been filed thus far allege, amongst other things, that the inhalation and ingestion of pre-purfoam from sleep apnea devices resulted in:

  • Mouth cancer
  • Tongue cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Multiple myeloma 
  • Respiratory irritation 
  • Long-term breathing problems

The severity of the illnesses which the users of Philips’s devices allege also directly impact the compensation to which they are entitled. Common damages in CPAP lawsuits include:

  • Medical costs
  • Lost income or wages
  • Wrongful death
  • Emotional distress

The best way in which to determine whether or not you are eligible to pursue a claim against Philips Respironics for its failure to warn you about the consequences of its sleep apnea machines is to speak with a qualified product liability lawyer. Each state has its own unique statutes of limitation which establish a period of time in which your claims are eligible in a court of law, which means that the sooner you act, the better.

Experienced CPAP Lawyers Near You Are Ready to Help

The introduction of Philips Respironics’s CPAP machines promised to ease the difficulties of contending with the disruptive side effects of sleep apnea. Now, the devices that pledged sweet dreams have made life a nightmare for tens of thousands of users. 

At LLN, we believe that the potentially lethal decision of Philips Respironics not to inform users at an earlier date about the dangers of their products’ defective designs requires accountability. As the Philips Respironics CPAP lawsuits advance, our experienced CPAP lawyers are ready to offer free consultations to help you understand the complex legal landscape, review the viability of your case, and calculate the compensation to which you may be entitled. 

The assistance of a qualified mass tort lawyer in your area can lessen the burden of pursuing a CPAP lawsuit and may increase the likelihood of receiving the compensation you deserve. If you or someone you know used Philips Respironics’s popular sleep apnea devices and now display the telltale signs of polyurethane consumption, consider scheduling an appointment today.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

Learn More

Latest News