Hundreds of CPAP machine lawsuits have been filed since medical device company Philips recalled millions of sleep apnea machines after discovering that they were causing users to inhale toxic foam particles. Thousand of additional CPAP recall lawsuits are expected to be filed against Philips and consolidated into a new class-action MDL. In this post, we will take a closer look at how much these Philips CPAP machine lawsuits might eventually be worth by comparing them to settlements in prior mass tort cases involving defective medical devices.
About the CPAP Machine Lawsuits
Back in June 2021, medical device giant Philips issued a sweeping safety recall notice for virtually all of its CPAP and BiPAP devices. The recall covered an estimated 10 million devices used on a nightly basis for the treatment of sleep apnea, including the popular DreamStation line of CPAP devices.
Philips issued the recall after discovering that the PE-PUR sound abatement foam used in the machines was deteriorating over time and causing users to inhale tiny foam particles. This was cause for major concern because the PE-PUR foam contained a number of chemical components that are known to be toxic and carcinogenic. The potential danger of inhaling these foam particles could include airway inflammation, damage to the kidney, liver, and other organs, and cancer in the lungs or respiratory tract.
Philips was apparently aware of the problems and potential dangers with the PE-PUR foam particles long before issuing the recall earlier this year. In fact, it appears as though Philips deliberately held off on issuing the recall until they had a new generation of CPAP machines ready to replace the recalled devices.
Within weeks after the recall announcement from Philips, the first wave of CPAP product liability lawsuits started getting filed across the country. Plaintiffs in these CPAP lawsuits are individuals who used one of the recalled Philips devices for sleep apnea (or other conditions) for a prolonged period and were subsequently diagnosed with adverse health conditions that may be linked to inhaling PE-PUR foam particles. Health conditions that may be caused by inhalation of the toxic foam particles include:
- Pulmonary fibrosis and similar types of acute conditions affecting the respiratory system.
- Cancer, particularly lung, liver, or kidney cancer.
- Damage to the lungs, liver, or kidneys.
CPAP Lawsuits Will Probably End in a “Global Settlement”
We are currently in the very earliest stages of the CPAP litigation, but these cases will most likely follow a similar path as other mass tort medical device lawsuits. The hundreds of CPAP product liability cases currently pending in federal courts across the country will eventually be consolidated into a “class action” MDL (Multidistrict Litigation).
Once this happens there will be a consolidated discovery process in the cases that usually takes anywhere from 18-24 months to unfold. The focus during this consolidated discovery is typically on the scientific evidence linking inhalation of the PE-PUR foam to certain cancers and other health conditions alleged by the plaintiffs. In the CPAP litigation, there will also be some level of focus on the mechanics of the alleged defect in the machines (i.e., when does the PE-PUR foam release particles, for how long, how many particles, etc.).
When the consolidated discovery phase is completed, a number of individual CPAP cases will be selected for “bellwether trials.” Actual jury trials will be held in these cases and the results will be used to help guide negotiations for the settlement of all the remaining cases. If the bellwether trials result in big verdicts for the plaintiffs, Philips may have no choice but pay a large sum of money to resolve the remaining claims and avoid further losses. This is referred to as a global or aggregate settlement.
What Will a Global Settlement in the CPAP Lawsuits Look Like?
To understand how a CPAP settlement might look, you need to understand how exactly how global settlements in mass tort cases work. To make this explanation simpler, we will use a hypothetical example:
Acme Inc. is defending 10,000 lawsuits in an MDL from plaintiffs alleging that Acme’s medical device was defective and caused users to suffer various health conditions including bowel obstructions, colon cancer, and liver cancer. The consolidated discovery phase in the MDL lasts for 18 months. At the end of discovery, a group of 10 individual cases are selected for bellwether trials. 3 of the bellwether cases are picked by the plaintiffs. 3 are picked by the defendants and the remaining 4 are picked by the MDL judge.
Over the next 6 months, half of these bellwether cases go to trial and generate the following results:
Case Selected By Result
Smith v. Acme Plaintiffs $2,500,000 Verdict
Jones v. Acme Defendants $750,000 Verdict
Miller v. Acme Judge $1,200,000 Verdict
Fields v. Acme Defendants Defense Verdict
Sutton v. Acme Plaintiffs $15,400,000 Verdict
After losing big in the 5th bellwether trial, Acme’s stock price plummets. The following day Acme publicly announces that they are negotiating a settlement of the remaining lawsuits and the additional bellwether trials are postponed. 6 months later the MDL judge approves the terms of a global settlement under which Acme agree to pay a total of $1.5 billion to settle and resolve all 10,000 remaining cases.
If the settlement proceeds were divided evenly this would result in a gross payment of $150,000 to each plaintiff. But the settlement agreement sets up a tiered system that ranks plaintiffs according to the severity of their injuries. Plaintiffs in the top settlement tier get more than $150,000 while those in the bottom tier get less.
Estimated Settlement Payout Value for Philips CPAP Lawsuits
Despite numerous variables that will impact the settlement value of CPAP cases, we can come up with an educated guess as to their eventual value based on settlement payouts in prior mass torts. Based on these comparisons, we think that the likely settlement payout on Philips CPAP claims will be as follows:
Settlement Tier Estimated Settlement
Tier I $100,000 – $150,000
Tier II $60,000 – $90,000
Tier III $10,000 – $30,000
Find Out if You Qualify for a Philips CPAP Lawsuit
Find out if you may be able to file a CPAP machine lawsuit against Philips and receive substantial financial compensation. Call our medical device lawyers today at 800-553-8082 to see if you have a case.
FAQs – CPAP Lawsuits
What are the CPAP Lawsuits?
The CPAP lawsuits are claims against medical device company Philips alleging that CPAP users inhaled toxic foam particles during sleep causing cancer and other health problems.
Is there a CPAP lawsuit against Philips?
There have already been hundreds of individual lawsuits filed against Philips in connection with the recalled sleep apnea devices. Thousands more are expected.
What CPAP machines are being recalled?
Almost all Philips CPAP and BiPAP machines have been recalled, including the popular DreamStation line of sleep apnea machines.