Philips Recall Litigation Update

The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has consolidated all Phillips CPAP and BiPAP lawsuits before a single Judge in Federal Court in PA. This will transfer all lawsuits in federal court related to the recalled Phillips CPAP and BIPAP products to a Multi-District Litigation. The Plaintiff in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania sued the Phillips manufacturers, alleging that their products cause harm for the action to be moved to centralize the litigation which consists of multiple actions across the United States. The Defendants responded to the motion in support of the centralization.

What is a multi-district litigation?

In United States law, multidistrict litigation, known commonly as an “MDL” is a special procedure in which federal civil (noncriminal) cases from around the country are transferred to one court. The cases must have one or more questions of fact (issues to be determined by looking at the evidence) in common. One Judge manages the litigation during the pretrial and discovery process. If a case does not settle during the course of the MDL, or is not dismissed during the process, it is sent back to the original court for trial. Such actions are typically transferred to a single district for consolidated pretrial proceedings. In an MDL, Pre-trial proceedings often include Discovery. A major component of the MDL is Discovery. Discovery is the formal investigation that the parties to a lawsuit conduct before trial. Discovery is governed by court rules, and often consists of questioning the parties and witnesses (depositions), asking for documents from the other party, and asking the other party to submit written answers to question (interrogatories). The goals of MDL are to coordinate federal complex litigation filed in multiple districts in an efficient way. The judge overseeing the MDL may also oversee settlement discussion and a resolution of the MDL via “Global Settlement.” In MDL proceedings, plaintiffs’ attorneys can pool their resources and coordinate efforts, increasing the money and resources available to litigate the case.

What stages occur during this type of litigation?

Cases that are filed after the formation of the MDL can also be transferred after the fact; these are called tag-along cases. The MDL Judge presides over pretrial motions, discovery proceedings, and settlement conferences. The Judge might dismiss some claims, or entire cases depending on the facts, and will preside over pretrial proceedings and discovery for the cases that go forward. Next, the court will schedule a few “bellwether” trials, which will serve as an indicator of what the parties might expect in their individual lawsuits, this often shows which legal arguments are effective and can have a big effect on the other cases in the MDL. If the bellwether plaintiffs are successful, the defendant’s are typically more motivated to negotiate a settlement of remaining claims. The Judge will encourage the parties to reach a global settlement applicable to all MDL cases, However, if a global settlement can’t be reached, individual cases are sent back to the original court where they were first filed. This is done in a procedure called Remand. The trial would then take place in the original court.

How have the Phillips Manufactures failed to meet their legal responsibility?

The Phillips manufacturers produced CPAP and BIPAP machines to assist in mitigating health issues because of ailments like sleep apnea. However, their devices malfunction causing a safety hazard in which the foam degrades and emits harmful chemicals. Foam degradation may form into particles, which when inhaled may also release certain chemicals/gases. Foam particles may penetrate the lower respiratory tract. The FDA has identified these affected devices as a Class I recall. Class I recall is the most serious type of recall. Often this recall is activated as a result of exposure to a product that causes severe health conditions or potentially may cause serious injuries or death.

Where can you go for help?

If you or a loved one has been affected by this recall of Phillips Respironics, it is essential to contact an attorney to discuss your options. The Law Offices of Rudolph F.X. Migliore is accepting cases related to injuries from CPAP and BiPAP devices. For more information, please do not hesitate to call (631) 543-3663. We are your point of contact