St. Jude Riata Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Recalled ICD Leads

  • Written by: Irvin Jackson

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A Washington man has filed a class action lawsuit against St. Jude Medical on behalf of individuals who were implanted with Riata or Riata ST defibrillator leads, which have been recalled from the market due to problems with the insulation that may allow the small wires to become exposed inside the body.  

The complaint (PDF) was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on April 12. The lawsuit was brought by K Sean O’Neil and his wife S.L. O’Neil, seeking class action status to include claims for all Washington state residents who received the ICD leads.

The St. Jude Riata and Riata ST ICD leads are small wires used to connect an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) to the heart. The leads were removed from the market more than two years ago amid reports of insulation problems, which can cause individuals to experience unnecessary shocks or cause the ICD to fail to deliver a life saving jolt when needed.

According to the St. Jude Riata class action lawsuit the manufacturer should pay for medical, surgical and incidental expenses of anyone in the state who was implanted with a recalled Riata lead. Because of the risks associated with removing the lead wires, individuals now must have Riata leads checked regularly to see if the insulation has failed, possibly placing their health at risk. The lawsuit also calls for punitive damages to be levied against the medical device manufacturer.

O’Neil’s Riata lead had to be surgically removed in October 2012, after he began suffering electrical shocks, according to the complaint, which says that the ICD lead was defective.

St. Jude Riata Defibrillator Lead Recall

After discontinuing the ICD leads in late 2010, the FDA issued a St. Jude Riata recall in December 2011. The action was taken in response to several warning letters sent by St. Jude to doctors about reports of problems with the insulation surrounding the wire, which can become worn and allow the heart defibrillator wires to become externalized.

Approximately 227,000 St. Jude Riata wires were sold worldwide before it was removed from the market, and estimates suggest that approximately 79,000 of the leads remain active in patients in the United States, as the process of attempting to remove the lead is very risky and doctors usually recommend keeping the recalled lead in place unless there is evidence that it has failed.

In August 2012, the FDA issued a safety communication in response to concerns among individuals who still have one of the recalled St. Jude Riata or Riata ST leads, recommending that individuals undergo x-ray or other imaging exams to monitor the condition of the leads.

The FDA has ordered the company to conduct additional studies on the potential risk of insulation failures and problems with the debrillator leads, including the newer versions sold under the Riata ST Optim and Durata names.

A growing number of individual St. Jude Riata lead lawsuits have been filed throughout the country by individuals who have experienced problems. However, this class action lawsuit for St. Jude Riata lead recipients seeks compensation for medical monitoring and other damages caused, even if the lead has not malfunctioned.

A recent study published in the medical journal Heart Rhythm suggested that about 11% of the St Jude Riata leads may suffer insulation failure after five years.

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  1. James Reply

    I had my first ICD installed in Dec 2006 after an episode of SCD. In two years 1998 In August I needed to have the Reata lead replaced. Of course with another Reata lead. In June of 2010 I had to go to the Hospital becouse I was getting shocked. St Judes people came out ran the monitoring test at the Hospital, and told me there was still approx 3 to 4 months on the battery life left on the ICD. They had me go home after a consult with the Dr.. The following night watching TV, I began getting a strang felling again and all of a sudden I felt very light and as if at the end of an opera darkness just rolled down from the top of my eyes.I told my wife I thougt I was going blind. In a very short time The curtin of darkness went Up and I could see. We went right to the main hospital.It turned out the ICD had depletted all it’s power over less the 24 hrs. and needed to be replaces.This is less than Four years from the original inplant date. All this time they had the reata lead still in place Every time they had to chang it, it was anothe Reata same lead number. December 2012 I was having a problem again and All but one wire was changed along with the ICD. that was just after Xmas 2012 into Jan 2013. In 2013 I got a letter from my Dr. requesting I go in for a Floriscope. Which led to going in the Hospital in July 2013. That makes five operations in less than 7 years. At a cost of almost (1) million $’s not counting the many other trips to the hospital. St Jude should pay big for all this stuff and pay the attornies seperatly. I do have an attorney on this . This is just a what the hay is going on with the suite.

  2. Richard Reply

    2 surgeries 5 weeks apart to replace recalled ICD and device from 1 st surgery

  3. marvin Reply

    I’ve been talking to st jude on my own and now I need some legal help they made an awful offer

  4. Beata Reply

    In 2010 I had surgery to have a St. Jude installed to my heart. Recently the pacemaker (defibrillator) had stopped supposedly due to needing a new battery, although there was still a year left of battery life. After we visited the hospital, my local doctor reviewed my medical records we received from hospital and he summarized in conclusion that the cable (lead) in the pacemaker had broken and there was a faulty connection. Since its founding device I have pains, unnecessary electronic shocks, irregular heartbeats, ending a visit to the emergrncy

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