For Phillips Electronics, the legal picture is worsening. The case is still early, and there have been no substantive rulings, but the preliminary evidence is piling up, and the number of lawsuits is increasing. Given the number of people who have been affected by the recall and the probability that many of them have been breathing toxic materials for years, we expect the number of lawsuits to grow substantially.
In June 2020, Phillips issued a recall of roughly 750,000 CPAP and BiPAP machines that were used by patients with obstructive sleep apnea to help them breathe while sleeping. The machines used a layer of polyurethane foam for sound abatement. This foam degraded over time. As a result, the air forced into the patients’ lungs included toxic pieces of foam.
Shortly after the recall, injured patients began to file lawsuits against Phillips, seeking compensation for injuries caused by the defective machines.
The CPAP Lawsuits Are Now Combined in Multidistrict Litigation
The most important recent legal development in the case is that a panel of judges has granted a motion for these cases to proceed as part of multidistrict litigation. What this means for plaintiffs is that their lawsuits are combined with others for all pre-trial proceedings. This is not the same thing as class action litigation. Each of the CPAP lawsuits is a separate case. It is possible for one plaintiff to win and another to lose.
Multidistrict litigation means that the cases are in the same court and supervised by the same Judge for pretrial discovery and motions. In other words, there will be common evidence used in all the cases. When individual cases proceed to trial both the common evidence and the evidence specific to an individual will be considered by the Judge and jury.
Right now, the multidistrict litigation is in federal court in the Western District of Pennsylvania. The assigned judge is the Hon. Joy Flowers Corsi. The most recent development in the case is that the court has interviewed and appointed attorneys who are seeking to be part of the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee. These are lawyers who will lead the effort to develop the common evidence and file and respond to motions that apply to common legal issues.
The Number of Phillips CPAP Lawsuits Is Quickly Growing
As of this writing, there are 201 open lawsuits that are a part of the multidistrict litigation. This number represents a sharp increase since the December 2020 reporting period, when there were 137 lawsuits outstanding. In total, the number of lawsuits has nearly doubled since November 2021.
We expect this number to continue to increase in the coming months, as the scope of the recall has widened considerably since it was first announced.
Plaintiffs still have some time to come forward with their lawsuit since the recall was first announced in June 2020. However, they may not want to wait too long, as the case is rapidly unfolding.
Phillips May Be Facing a Large Financial Liability
What has become clear is that Phillips has a serious legal problem on its hands. The company first mentioned the problems with its sleep devices in April 2021, not as a warning to consumers but as an entry in its financial reports. The company officially issued a recall notice several months later. At the time of the initial report, it seemed unlikely that Phillips had only just learned of the issue. The FDA launched an investigation to learn more about the defect and how it happened.
Sure enough, the FDA’s findings confirmed what was suspected. The FDA found that Phillips was alerted of the problem at least 14 times over a six-year time period. However, they did nothing to warn physicians or users of the machines as reports of significant issues increased.
The company’s initial recall plan has caused even more problems. The company provided repair kits to replace the polyurethane foam with silicone foam. However, silicone may not be much safer. The FDA has withdrawn its approval of the recall plan. Now, customers who need the sleep apnea machine are stuck either using a dangerous machine or being without the help they require to sleep safely at night.
Contact a Houston Products Liability Lawyer Today
If you have used a Phillips CPAP or BiPAP machine, and you have been diagnosed with cancer of the nose, mouth, throat, or lung or if you have been hospitalized with severe lung problems then you should contact an experienced product liability attorney to evaluate whether you have a claim against Phillips Electronics. Blizzard Law, PLLC is devoted to helping our clients get the money they deserve when they were injured by a product that they trusted. Call us today at (866) 580-1867, or contact us online to discuss your legal options in your case against Phillips Electronics. We hold big companies like Phillips accountable when they have ignored their own legal obligations and put their profits over your health.