Victims Begin Filing Lawsuits Over Defective Philips CPAP Machines

by | Aug 17, 2021 | Products Liability

A Pennsylvania truck driver seeks to represent nearly four million people who have inhaled toxic fumes through defective breathing machines.

The plaintiff’s doctor diagnosed him with sleep apnea in 2020, and prescribed a Philips CPAP machine the same year. Since he cannot use the recalled machine, and since Philips has not provided a safe alternative, the plaintiff cannot drive his truck, per Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations. Furthermore, court documents state that the plaintiff has experienced severe health issues, such as atrial fibrillation, because of the defective machine.

Philips claims that DreamStation 2 machines, which are next-generation CPAPs, do not have issues with toxic foam. But no release date is available.

Philips CPAP Issues

When they first appeared, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machines seemed like a godsend to many people. Sleep apnea, which in its mild form is snoring and in extreme cases could be life-threatening, robs many people of sleep. Breathing machines were available, but the noise made the cure almost as bad as the disease.

CPAPs gently push air into a person’s nose, to keep the airway inflated and open. At the same time, a protective foam greatly suppresses the machine’s noise. It was that protective foam which was the Philips CPAP machine’s downfall.

This foam is polyurethane. This ingredient is very common. Manufacturers place almost 2 billion pounds of this foam into consumer products every year. Polyurethane is also very toxic. However, as long as the foam remains in one piece, the possible side-effects are almost nonexistent.

But a CPAP machine’s constant vibrations break up the foam. As a result, toxic dust gets into the air hose and enters the patient’s body. Some possible adverse health effects include:

  • Lung Disease: The microscopic Isocyanate particles in polyurethane foam often irritate membranes in the lung, causing breathing problems and chest tightness. Additionally, these particles could cause toxic exposure cancer. 
  • Bronchial Tube Blockage: These tubes are so small and narrow that a single grain of dust could effectively block an entire passageway. Afghanistan and Iraq veterans who breathed burn pit smoke face similar issues.

If a defective CPAP machine was beside your bed, a Lexington personal injury attorney can connect you with a doctor who can either minimize or reverse this lung damage. Usually, these professionals charge nothing upfront for these services.

Defective Products

Like most manufacturers in these situations, Philips has been in no hurry to notify customers about this recall. Click here to see a list of affected devices.

A Philips CPAP machine is probably not the only defective product in your home. Since the government only issues a recall after people get hurt, you or someone in your family might be using a defective product at this moment. There are basically two types of dangerous product defects:

  • Design Defect: Philips CPAP machines had design defects. The manufacturer should have used something other than toxic foam to absorb noise. Or, it should have taken steps to reduce vibrations. Unfortunately, it is par for the course for these companies to place profits before people.
  • Manufacturing Defect: Sometimes, products appear safe when they are on the drawing board. If the manufacturer perfectly executed the plans, the resulting product probably would be safe. But many product makers take dangerous shortcuts during the manufacturing and/or distribution process. Consumers pay the price.

Manufacturers are typically strictly liable for injuries. Victims usually need only establish causation.

Inherently dangerous products, like fireworks, are a bit different. Since there is no way to make such products perfectly safe, the manufacturer is usually responsible for any resulting injuries, regardless of how careful it was.

Class Action vs. MDL

Most people are familiar with class action lawsuits. A single plaintiff represents an entire group of victims. That group could be as small as a few dozen, or as large as a few million. Many other qualifications apply as well. Then, a judge must certify the lawsuit as a class action in a separate proceeding.

Class action lawsuits are an excellent way for victims to pool their resources and effectively take on a huge, multinational conglomerate which has a posse of lawyers.

However, most defective products and other mass tort claims do not achieve class action status. There are too many differences among the individual cases.

So, judges refer most of these claims to a Multidistrict Litigation court. MDLs are ideal for dangerous drug and other such claims. As long as the claims and defenses are generally the same, MDL is usually available. The court consolidates these cases for pretrial purposes. A single court master, who usually has specialized experience in a given area, oversees discovery and settlement negotiations. If a case doesn’t settle, it usually goes back to its home jurisdiction for trial.

MDL litigation has most of the benefits of class action litigation. Once again, victims pool their resources against a common enemy. Additionally, once one case settles, it usually creates settlement momentum for the other MDL cases.

Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act. #goodelawyers