Oregon trucker seeks class-action status for lawsuit over Philips CPAP recall

July 23, 2021

Land Line Staff


Attorneys for an Oregon truck driver are seeking class-action status for a lawsuit against Royal Philips over a recall of some of the company’s devices used to treat sleep apnea.

The named plaintiff, Gerry Shelton of Boring, Ore., was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2020. He purchased a Philips Dreamstation BiPAP machine as part of his treatment. The lawsuit was filed on June 29 in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, where Philips has its North American headquarters.

The device is part of a recall Philips announced earlier this year that includes many of its CPAP and BiPAP machines. The recalled machines contain a polyester-based polyurethane foam for sound abatement.

The recall announcement states that the foam may break down and be inhaled or ingested, or that it may emit volatile organic compounds that can be inhaled or ingested, potentially causing serious injury or life-threatening illnesses, including cancer.

“(Shelton) would not have purchased this product if he had known it was defective, contained a carcinogenic byproduct, and would be subject to a recall for containing defective materials,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit alleges that Philips had heard complaints from patients of “black particles” in their machines for years but “did not warn the public or its customers about these hazards” until this spring, before issuing a voluntary recall in the U.S. in June.

Because of the recall, Shelton has been forced to stop using the machine and does not have a replacement readily available. The lawsuit also claims Shelton has had to stop driving truck due to his untreated sleep apnea and that he suffered atrial fibrillation “because he is no longer able to get sufficient sleep without the use of an appropriate device to help him breathe properly.”

The lawsuit seeks a refund, replacement with a nondefective device, costs for ongoing medical monitoring, “and all other appropriate damages for all the injuries he has suffered as a result of his defective (device).”

According to the recall notice from Philips, the potential risks of particulate exposure include headache, irritation, inflammation, respiratory issues, and possible toxic and carcinogenic effects. The potential risks of chemical exposure due to off-gassing include headache, irritation, hypersensitivity, nausea/vomiting, and possible toxic and carcinogenic effects. The notice states that Philips has received no reports regarding patient impact related to chemical emissions.

On Wednesday, July 21, attorneys for Royal Philips filed a request to stay the proceedings in Shelton’s case pending the court’s decision on a motion to transfer and consolidate the numerous lawsuits that have been filed since the recall announcement.

According to court documents filed by Philips, the company is aware of at least 20 similar lawsuits filed so far. LL