Breg Polar Care Cold-Therapy Lawsuit Verdict Overturned On Appeal

A California appeals court has overturned a $12.6 million verdict in a Breg Polar Care cold therapy lawsuit, indicating that the jury’s findings were not supported by the evidence presented at trial. 

The original complaint was filed by Whitney Engler against Breg International and Dr. David Chao, alleging that Engler suffered tissue damage in her leg after she was told to use the Polar Care 500 therapy unit following knee surgery.

Last week, the California 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that the verdict was not supported by sound science and that the jury awarded excessive damages, according to a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune. The ruling overturns a July 2012 verdict, which awarded Engler $5 million in compensatory damages and $7.5 million in punitive damages.

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Engler was killed by her roommate three years after the verdict, in a murder-suicide unrelated to the lawsuit. However, the lawsuit has continued through her estate.

The Breg Polar Care is a cold therapy machine designed to treat pain and swelling by exposing the injured areas to hours of heat and cold. The machines are supposed to work in a number of ways.

Cold therapy restricts blood flow to the injured area, slows down nerve impulses that tell you that you are in pain and also works as distraction pain, pulling the mind’s focus away from the injury to the sensation of cold. However, there have been a number of reports involving problems with cold therapy, where the machines have caused frostbite, skin damage, nerve damage, and a risk of limb amputation.

According to allegations raised in Engler’s cold therapy lawsuit, the Polar Care caused the skin on her legs to die. As a result of the injuries allegedly caused by the cold therapy, the former high school track star has required multiple reconstructive surgeries.

The lawsuit is one of a number of similar product liability complaints filed over problems with cold therapy machines, also known as cryotherapy. In addition to Polar Care lawsuits against Breg, a number of similar products have faced claims, including DeRoyal Cold Therapy Units, DonJoy Iceman, EBIce, Aircase Cryo Cuff, Game Ready and others.


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