There have been recent developments in the news regarding product liability and mass tort lawsuits. Mass tort litigation cases arise when a large number of people report having injuries or illnesses from a dangerous or defective product. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) sleep apnea machines by Phillips Respironics have been recalled after many reports of injuries. Millions of people have been affected by this dangerous product and are looking to receive compensation from their injuries and for medical expenses.

Phillips Respironics has recalled multiple products as a result of the same cause, including CPAP, BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure), and ventilator machines. Philips Respironics stated that the CPAP apnea machine was intended to “send a constant flow of airway pressure to your throat so that the airway stays open during sleep, which was intended to treat spontaneous pauses in breath associated with sleep apnea”. However, there have been reports of a foam deconstructing into tiny pieces or becoming a contaminated vapor that could be inhaled by users. If this were to occur, numerous and potentially severe health complications can arise.

The recall is due to a component in the machine called a polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam. As stated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the foam was intended to reduce noise and vibrations that may come from the machine. Instead of helping and benefiting users, the foam has caused people to develop severe medical symptoms that can detrimentally affect their health. As quoted by the U.S. Food and Drug Association, potential risks of the degradation of PE-PUR foam may include “irritation to the skin, eye, and respiratory tract, inflammatory response, dizziness, headache, asthma, hypersensitivity, and toxic and carcinogenic effects”. In severe circumstances, degradation and exposure to the PE-PUR foam may have the potential to be linked to developing cancer or lung diseases. Researchers are still looking into the severe effects.