Continuous positive airway pressure device maker Philips Respironics recently announced plans to settle a class action lawsuit against the company. The suit sought compensation for economic losses following a massive recall of its CPAP devices.

The $479 million settlement doesn’t settle any of the personal injury or medical monitoring claims in a multidistrict litigation lawsuit. Philips has moved to dismiss the MDL, but as of August 2023 there were approximately 6,698 Philips CPAP lawsuits pending. 

Philips issued a statement about the class action settlement. Noting the agreement is subject to federal court approval, the company explained some of the payout plans and variables.

The company explained the agreement will “provide predefined cash awards to all eligible participants in the U.S. depending on the type of device, extended warranties on all replacement devices, and an additional cash award if they return the recalled device to Philips Respironics.”

How Much Will the Payout Be for Each Class Member?

Each plaintiff in the class action or class member will reportedly be compensated between $50 to $1,500. Settlements are not expected to begin until the first quarter of 2024 at the earliest.

Philips also noted in its statement, “The settlement will further compensate certain individuals who acquired replacement devices post-recall.” 

There will be an additional $100 for each device returned to the company. The company has reportedly set aside an additional $15 million for customers who wish to replace their Philips’ CPAP devices

Health Risks Prompted Recall of Sleep Apnea Devices 

A voluntary recall of millions of Philips’ CPAP and bilevel positive airway pressure machines was issued in June 2021. It followed reports that polyester-based polyurethane sound abatement foam used in the CPAP and BiPAP devices could break down.

Consumers reported black foam particles were breaking off inside the machine and blowing into the user’s mouth and nose. This posed a risk that patients with sleep apnea could inhale gasses and swallow particles as the machines push air into their airway.

More than 98,000 medical device reports of CPAP side effects were sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between April 2021 and December 2022. The FDA reports there were nearly 400 deaths in connection with the devices.

Potential risks associated with the recalled devices include:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Chest pressure
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Inflammation
  • Irritation of the skin, eyes or respiratory tract
  • Kidney and liver issues
  • Sinus infection

Shortly after the recall, lawyers began working with patients who used recalled Philips CPAP devices and were diagnosed with cancer or other serious health issues. Lawyers are still taking cases.