Philips DreamStation Class Action Lawsuit Seeks Economic Damages For Recalled CPAP Machines

Owners of recalled Philips CPAP machines should be reimbursed for the costs associated with purchasing the devices, which contain a defective sound abatement foam linked to serious respiratory injuries and cancer.

A class action lawsuit has been filed over the Philips DreamStation recall issued earlier this year, which left all consumers without the ability to use their CPAP machine, due to problems with the sound abatement foam that may break down and release toxic particles directly into the air pathways.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Jennifer Scarella in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on October 12, seeking class action status to pursue economic damages suffered by all individuals who purchased one of the recalled Philips DreamStation CPAP machines, indicating that the manufacturer should be forced to reimburse consumers who paid hundreds of dollars for products that may have been poisoning them.

Scarella, of Pennsylvania, is one of millions of consumers with a Philips CPAP, BiPAP or mechanical ventilator impacted by the recall, due to a polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) sound abatement foam, which the manufacturer now warns can break down and release particles and gases which may be toxic and cause adverse health effects.

To the risk of serious side effects from the CPAP foam exposure, federal health officials have warned all owners of recalled DreamStation and other impacted breathing machines to immediately stop using the products, unless it is needed for life-sustaining therapy.

According to the lawsuit, Scarella bought a DreamStation Auto CPAP with a cell modem, heated tube, and humidifier, as well as a DreamStation Humidifier. Like others, she was informed the devices may be a danger to her health but needs them to combat her sleep apnea. To replace the machines would cost hundreds of dollars, she has not been reimbursed for the recalled devices yet, and under Philips’ repair and replacement plan, it could be up to a year before she gets a new device or has the foam in her current devices replaced.

Lab analysis has found the degraded CPAP foam may release a number of harmful chemicals, including toluene diamine, toluene diisocyanate and diethylene glycol. In addition, several Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) have been identified from testing.

Scarella indicates she never would have purchased the Philips DreamStation Auto CPAP if she had been informed about the risks associated with the device, yet the manufacturer continued to allow consumers to use the sleep apnea machines every night, long after discovering that the sound abatement foam may deteriorate and send particles into the air pathways.

“Philips knew about these very substantial and material risks long before the recall,” the lawsuit states. “Patients who use the Recalled Breating Machines have complained about black particles in their machines for several years. Philips, however, did not warn the public or its customers about these hazards until late April 2021 and did not recall the Recalled Breathing Machines until June 14.”

Scarella’s claim now joins a growing number of similar Philips DreamStation CPAP lawsuits being pursued in courts nationwide, many including allegations that users have been diagnosed with various types of respiratory injury and cancer following exposure to the chemicals from degraded PE-PUR foam.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered all federal Philips CPAP class action lawsuits consolidated before one judge in Western Pennsylvania for pretrial proceedings. Such consolidation is common in complex product liability litigation, where a large number of claims have been presented by former users of the same product, alleging similar injuries.

Centralizing the DreamStation CPAP claims is expected to help avoid duplicative discovery, prevent contradictory rulings from different judges, and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses, and the courts. However, if the manufacturer fails to reach settlement with owners of recalled CPAP machines, each individual case may later be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a separate trial date.

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