Philips Respironics issued a safety recall on June 14, 2021, for their CPAP, BiPAP, and mechanical ventilators that use PE-PUR, a type of polyurethane foam that contains volatile organic compounds (VOC) that are toxic and carcinogenic. It is estimated that 3 to 4 million devices were recalled. Philips issued the recall because the foam within the CPAP and BiPAP devices can degrade or outgas, causing users to ingest or inhale toxic particles or chemicals and develop serious and potentially life-threatening injuries.
Those who used the machines for six months or longer and who developed a new related diagnosis may be entitled to compensation. Several individuals have filed product liability lawsuits stating they have been egregiously affected by toxic exposure and have developed conditions such as pulmonary fibrosis and cancer.
Philips sent out a press release on September 1, 2021, stating that they received FDA approval to repair the recalled devices. Prior to this date, they did not offer a repair option. The press release also said that they would replace the defective devices but that the repair or replacement could take up to a year to complete. In the meantime, people may have to find an alternative CPAP or BiPAP option, which can be costly.
Is there a multidistrict litigation for Philips CPAP cases?
On September 30, 2021, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) heard arguments for consolidating 32 lawsuits in multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Eastern Pennsylvania. This is similar to a class action lawsuit, but instead of all cases being tried under one case, they are tried separately. If an MDL is deemed appropriate, then the pre-trial proceedings will be consolidated to one court. This move would help promote consistency amongst the individual cases. Philips did not oppose an MDL consolidation, and a ruling on which court will house the cases is expected soon.
How much will the settlement(s) be for the victims?
Since the cases are just reaching the court system, final dollar amounts on settlements are purely speculation. Another factor that will affect settlement sizes are the varying degrees of injury and illness among the plaintiffs. Individuals with the most serious injuries should, at a minimum, receive payments ranging from $100,000 to $500,000. However, this number stands to be much larger if liability is established. Plaintiffs stand to be compensated for current and future medical costs related to their injuries as well as pain and suffering, lost wages, and other losses caused by the injury.
Smart settlement planning
The best settlement planning begins early in the litigation process. With many options to choose from to best suit the individual, working with a settlement planning company like Milestone early on can ease the transition to settlement, providing plaintiffs and trial lawyers much-needed peace of mind as litigation continues. To chat with an experienced member of our team about options for MDL plaintiffs and attorneys, give Milestone a call at 716-883-1833.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).