Sleep apnea is a common condition that can cause significant health problems. Many health care providers prescribe treatment with a CPAP or BiPap device made by Philips Respironics, trusting the company to provide safe treatment for their patients.
Unfortunately, Philips abused that trust when they discovered that their products exposed their users to harmful chemicals and failed to warn prescribers and users. Toxic substances have caused thousands of illnesses resulting in permanent impairment and death. They only issued a voluntary recall after their misconduct came to light.
The product liability lawyers with Nessler & Associates can help you file a personal injury claim if you’ve been diagnosed with an illness connected to using a Philips CPAP device to treat sleep apnea. Schedule a risk-free case review to discuss your options with a qualified attorney.
Discover why people use CPAP, the damage defective machines can cause, which devices have been recalled, and how a personal injury lawyer with Nessler & Associates can help you through a complicated legal process.
Sleep Apnea and CPAP Machines
According to the American Medical Association, about 30 million people in the U.S. have sleep apnea, while only 6 million are diagnosed. Treatments include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, oral appliances, weight loss, and managing medical conditions.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is the medical term for your breath repeatedly pausing during your sleep—these interruptions in breathing cause your sleep to be less restful. The two types of sleep apnea are obstructive and central.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your airway becomes blocked due to your tongue falling backward or your trachea collapsing. It can happen at any age but becomes more likely as you age. Other risk factors include family history, conditions that cause fluid buildup in the neck, large tonsils, obesity, smoking, and alcohol use.
Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not send the appropriate signals to the diaphragm to support breathing. Risk factors include age, genetics, chronic conditions that affect brain function, smoking, alcohol use, and opioid use.
Both types of sleep apnea improve with the same treatments.
Consequences of Sleep Apnea
Untreated sleep apnea has several adverse health consequences. These consequences include heart attack, heart failure, stroke, oxygen deprivation injuries, hypertension, and memory problems. Sleep apnea patients who do not seek medical intervention also face an increased risk of death.
What is CPAP?
A Philips CPAP breathing machine provides positive air pressure to help keep the patient’s airway from collapsing. It is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. Using a CPAP breathing device can help you avoid serious health issues.
There are also BiPAP machines that provide bi-level PAP. These machines decrease the air pressure during exhalation.
Philips Respironics has the world’s largest market share of mechanical ventilation medical devices. The company recalled approximately 5.5 million Philips CPAP and similar ventilation devices.
Philips CPAP Recall
Philips Respironics issued a voluntary recall of specific CPAP machine models on June 14, 2021. A Food and Drug Administration investigation discovered that Philips Respironics first became aware of the potential health risks of their machines in 2015. The FDA ordered the company to notify patients of the affected devices of the risk in March of 2022.
The defective devices use polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) sound abatement foam that releases black debris into the air pathway. This foam degradation presents significant health hazards. PE-PUR foam can also release carcinogenic chemicals that users inhale.
When Philips Respironics issued its recall, the FDA released a safety communication relaying the relevant information to consumers. This information included the affected Philips CPAP devices and the potential carcinogenic effects of using a machine with degraded foam.
Damage Caused by Philips CPAP Machines
The toxic chemicals released by defective Philips CPAP machines can significantly increase your cancer risk, in addition to causing organ damage and respiratory illnesses.
Products of Foam Degradation
Philips investigated the effects of degraded foam and found several chemical products that have carcinogenic effects and irritate tissues. These chemicals include toluene diamine, toluene diisocyanate, diethylene glycol, and dimethyl diazene.
Types of Cancers
Using a defective product produced by the company significantly increases your risk of cancer.
- Lung cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Breast cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Nasal cancer
- Brain cancer
- Lymphatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Hematopoietic cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Colon cancer
- Blood cancer
Exposure to unsafe levels of chemicals and black particles from the breakdown of the PE-PUR foam can cause various respiratory issues.
- Airway inflammation
- Sinus infection
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Lung injuries
- Reactive airway disease
- Upper airway irritation
- Respiratory failure
- Chronic bronchitis
- Recurrent pneumonia
Other Types of Damage
The chemical poisoning caused by defective Philips CPAP machines can also lead to many other adverse events.
- An inflammatory response
- Liver disease
- Lung damage
- Kidney disease
- Chronic inflammation
- Organ failure
- Chest pressure
The company received notification of foam issues as early as November 2015 but did not conduct further studies or investigations into other machines using the same foam.
What to Do if You Use an Affected Device
You may use an alternative device if your machine is included in the recall, or you may be able to use a special filter.
If you use one of the following potentially defective CPAP or BiPAP machines made by Philips Respironics, contact your healthcare provider to discuss your options.
- A-Series BiPAP A30
- A-Series BiPAP Hybrid A30
- A-Series BiPAP V30 Auto (ventilator)
- A-Series BiPAP A40
- A-Series BiPAP A40 (ventilator)
- C-Series ASV (ventilator)
- C-Series S/T and AVAPS
- DreamStation ASV
- DreamStation Go
- DreamStation ST, AVAPS
- Dorma 400
- Dorma 500
- Garbin Plus, Aeris, LifeVent (ventilator)
- OmniLab Advanced+
- REMstar SE Auto
- SystemOne ASV4
- SystemOne (Q-Series)
- Trilogy 100 (ventilator)
- Trilogy 200 (ventilator)
Contact Your Doctor
If you discover that the recall affects your recalled CPAP or BiPAP device made by Philips, contact your healthcare provider for guidance. They can help you weigh your options and evaluate the risk of continued treatment against the risk of no treatment.
Your doctor might help you find another device, or the company might send out a repair kit to make your device safe for continued use. Do not discontinue using your CPAP device without discussing it with your medical team.
Philips CPAP Multidistrict Litigation
Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits based on product liability laws can burden the legal system. The courts use multidistrict litigation to combat that problem.
What is Multidistrict Litigation?
Courts use multidistrict litigation (MDL) for complex product liability lawsuits that involve thousands of victims. They transfer all related cases to one jurisdiction and have one judge manage the discovery and pretrial process. In this case, all claims were transferred to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, where experienced jurist Judge Joy Flowers Conti oversees them.
During the discovery phase, attorneys on both sides gather evidence. They can examine medical records, record depositions, and submit interrogatories or written questions.
Judge Conti issued an order in November 2021 that Philips must preserve the evidence from recalled machines it repairs, indicating that the company may have been destroying such evidence.
The FDA received more than 21,000 complaints about Philips CPAP devices’ use between April 2021 and April 2022, including 124 reports of death. An FDA investigation found that the company received more than 222,000 complaints about contaminants and black debris in the air pathway of sleep apnea devices since 2008. Thousands of these complainants have joined the MDL.
Part of the MDL process involves bellwether trials. Plaintiffs and defendants choose a small number of representative cases to take to trial and determine how juries will treat these cases. This process shows attorneys how to approach settlement agreements in the future. The first CPAP bellwether trials should start in 2023.
How is an MDL Different From a Class Action Lawsuit?
CPAP MDL cases involve many individual plaintiffs. This litigation differs from class action lawsuits, where one or several plaintiffs represent a larger group of plaintiffs. MDLs save plaintiffs and defendants time and money and decrease the burden on the court system.
MDLs give the plaintiffs awards individually, whereas class actions give one lump sum to be divided among all plaintiffs. People who suffer significant injuries or illness generally recover more compensation with MDL suits than in class action cases.
Damages You Might Recover
A Philips Respironics CPAP machine recall lawsuit might be appropriate if you suffer severe injuries or adverse effects from chemical exposure that result in high medical bills and severe pain and suffering.
You can recover compensatory damages for your medical treatment, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and intangible damages such as physical pain, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and a decreased life expectancy.
You can also seek punitive damages because the company did not warn users of its sleep apnea machine of potential exposure to dangerous chemicals. Illinois caps punitive damages at three times the amount of compensatory damages you receive.
The company’s corrective actions have been lacking. An FDA letter to the company scolds them for poor communication with prescribers and users of the affected devices.
Punitive damages are designed to punish the company for wrongdoing. In this case, the damages apply to the company’s failure to disclose the risks. Even after the recall, the company failed to adequately notify people using affected machines, leaving many patients in danger.
Illinois CPAP Recall Lawyers
The law firm of Nessler & Associates understands how the company’s decision to withhold information affects the statute of limitations. The time limit usually bars you from filing a product liability claim if you first purchased or used the item more than 12 years ago.
We can assemble the appropriate evidence for a lawsuit by examining your medical records and investigating the company’s communications and internal examinations of each type of sleep apnea machine. We can also explore the foam suppliers to find out what they knew and when.
If you developed cancer or suffered permanent impairment from the toxic effects of sound abatement foam particles, our legal time can file a cancer lawsuit on your behalf. We will vigorously protect your rights to the compensation you need for proper medical care.
We can have a medical professional review your case to find potential injuries caused by toxic sound abatement foam. This expert can also give an opinion on whether you would have received these injuries if you had been warned about the dangerous sleep apnea device when the company first found out about it.
Get the Representation You Deserve
The skilled legal staff with Nessler & Associates has extensive successful trial experience. We will aggressively fight the company that caused your suffering to get you maximum compensation. We pride ourselves on excellent client communication and answer client questions promptly and thoroughly.
We provide compassionate guidance through the complex legal processes involved in MDL and class action lawsuits. We will be there with you from the initial consultation through the verdict. We understand the hardships personal injuries cause and will help you get civil justice.
Nessler & Associates’ contingency fee allows you to access high-quality legal representation for civil lawsuits regardless of your financial situation. You only pay if we win and do not pay anything upfront. This fee structure benefits people suffering from massive medical debt who cannot work.
Call Nessler & Associates at (800) 727-8010 for a free consultation to learn how we can help you with a class action or MDL claim. We can discuss your case during a complimentary consultation, where we will assess your evidence and address your concerns about your claim.