Get Help With a St. Jude Defibrillator Lawsuit
Have you or a loved one had a St. Jude defibrillator implanted and suffered complications or even death? If a defect in the defibrillator’s battery caused or contributed to your injury or your loved one’s death, you may be entitled to recover compensation for the expenses and losses you and your family have experienced.
Parker Waichman LLP understands that an award of monetary compensation cannot ever truly replace a lost loved one, a decreased life span or weeks or months of pain and suffering. However, we believe that when you do encounter these painful difficulties, those who are responsible for causing them should be held accountable. Call today and we’ll evaluate your case for free to help you understand your legal rights and determine your next steps.
What Is an Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator?
An implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD), also known as a pacemaker, is a medical device implanted in the chest of a person to help that individual maintain a regular and healthy heart rhythm. These devices run on batteries and are designed to provide the person and their doctor with ample opportunity to replace batteries that are losing power. If a person’s defibrillator runs out of power, it can no longer provide the life-saving benefits it’s designed to provide.
What Is the Basis of a St. Jude Defibrillator Battery Lawsuit?
In a normal pacemaker, the device’s battery drains at a regular and predictable rate and gives ample warning to both the patient and the patient’s doctor before the battery needs to be replaced. In St. Jude Medical defibrillators, however, the battery may suddenly and unexpectedly drain completely. This renders the device useless for regulating the patient’s heart rhythm and providing an essential shock if the heart stops beating altogether. If the patient fails to notice signs of a cardiac incident and seek medical attention, serious injury or even death may result.
The batteries that led to St. Jude’s ICDs being recalled are not the original batteries designed for these devices. Instead, these batteries were designed and used in St. Jude devices after the devices and their original power sources were approved by the FDA. St. Jude announced the new batteries as an improvement over the original power source, designed to last longer than the original. By 2014, however, it was clear that St. Jude knew that these newer, “improved” batteries had problems.
Is This the Only Reported Problem With St. Jude Defibrillators?
No. St. Jude Medical’s Riata defibrillators were recalled due to faulty wiring in late 2011. The Riata IDC had issues with the insulation on the leads. Leads are small wires that connect the defibrillator to the heart, and because of the faulty wiring, the leads were exposed inside the body which created an increased risk of necessary shocks, failure to deliver a life-saving shock when it was necessary, and additional surgery to fix the leads. This led to defibrillator lawsuits over the Riata recall. In the 2015 St. Jude defibrillator leads lawsuit, the company was forced to pay more than $14 million to patients and their families as well as $50 million to shareholders misled about the company’s knowledge of the product’s defect.
Side Effects and Symptoms of a Defective St. Jude Defibrillator
Individuals who have had a St. Jude defibrillator implanted and experience any of the following symptoms should proceed to the nearest emergency room and/or obtain immediate medical treatment:
- Lightheadedness: It may feel as if you are not thinking as clearly as you normally do, and you may notice dizziness if you stand up too quickly.
- Dizziness: Are you having trouble maintaining your balance when walking or standing? If so, you may need immediate medical care and should proceed to the closest emergency room.
- Loss of Consciousness: Fainting spells that come upon you suddenly and without warning may be indicators that you are having a cardiac incident. These incidents can cause serious injury or even death without prompt medical intervention.
- Shortness of Breath: Finding yourself winded and short of breath with little or no reason can also be a sign of heart problems.
- Chest Pain: Often considered to be one of the classic symptoms of a heart attack, if you experience unexplained or sudden chest pain, you may have little time to seek help.
These symptoms may appear individually or in conjunction with one another or other symptoms. As a general rule, if you experience sudden and unexplained symptoms and you have had a St. Jude Medical defibrillator implanted, you should seek prompt medical attention.
You May Be Entitled to Compensation for Your Losses
Recovering from a cardiac incident such as a heart attack can require surgical intervention, medications or lifestyle changes. It can take some time before you are ready to return to your normal activities, if you are able to return to them at all. As a result, you may incur losses such as:
- Medical bills
- Prescription drug costs
- Therapy and physical rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages due to time missed from work
- Lost future earnings that are the result of being unable to return to work
- Counseling or mental health service costs if you find that you are depressed after your incident
- Mental pain and anguish
- Other economic and noneconomic expenses and losses
If you’ve been harmed by a defective St. Jude defibrillator, an attorney with our firm can help you get the compensation you deserve. St. Jude Medical Inc. may be responsible for your financial losses because of the legal obligations placed on manufacturers of medical devices. American legal principles require that these manufacturers design and produce devices that are reasonably safe for their intended use and that are free from defects. When a defective device such as a St. Jude ICD is identified, the manufacturer has an obligation to attempt to identify and correct the defect by either repairing or replacing the device. In the case of St. Jude Medical defibrillators, it’s believed that even after St. Jude learned that there were problems with its batteries, they nevertheless continued to sell the defective devices for years.
Act Quickly to Preserve Your Legal Rights
It’s important that you take action promptly after your St. Jude Medical defibrillator incident. Depending on your state of residence and the jurisdiction in which your incident occurs, you may have as little as a year from the date you discover or should have discovered that you suffered harm as the result of a St. Jude Medical device. Once this time period, referred to as the statute of limitations, runs out, you will generally be unable to file a claim for compensation for your injuries.
What’s more, it takes quick action to determine if the battery cluster in your St. Jude ICD is truly defective. Important tangible evidence and witnesses with knowledge about St. Jude defibrillators and their defective batteries can either be lost or become much more difficult to locate and preserve with the passage of time. Once this evidence is lost, it becomes irreplaceable. Contact Parker Waichman as soon as possible to safeguard your legal rights and maximize your opportunity for recovery though a St. Jude defibrillator battery lawsuit.
Filing a St. Jude Defibrillator Injury Lawsuit: How Does the Process Work?
A St. Jude defibrillator lawsuit begins with an evaluation of the facts and circumstances surrounding your injury to determine if you may have a viable claim and the nature and amount of compensation to which you may be entitled. During this initial stage, you and your attorney review whether the defibrillator you use is one of the defective models manufactured by St. Jude, how the device failed, what injuries you suffered as a direct result of the defective defibrillator, and any facts or circumstances that could suggest that your own carelessness contributed to your injuries. This would also be the stage during which you and your attorney discuss the amount and quality of evidence and witnesses available to support your claims.
Once a review of the facts is completed and it’s determined that you may have a viable claim for compensation, your lawsuit begins when your initial pleading is prepared, filed with the court, and delivered to St. Jude and any other at-fault parties. This pleading sets forth the basic facts and legal authority that you believe entitle you to a financial recovery. St. Jude and any other named defendant will have an opportunity to respond to this initial pleading and either admit, deny or state that it cannot either admit or deny your allegations. If the other party believes it has legal defenses to your allegations, it will set forth those arguments.
If the case is not settled or otherwise resolved at this point, your defibrillator injury case will enter a phase known as discovery. During the discovery phase, each party will exchange information so that each side has an adequate opportunity to prepare for trial. Exhibits, documents, photographs, and reports must be made available to the other side, as must the names of witnesses and names and professional background information of any expert witnesses. During this phase, depositions may be taken. Discovery can take anywhere from several weeks to several months or longer to complete.
A trial occurs if the case still does not settle. Then, both parties will have an opportunity to present evidence and witness testimony in support of their positions and claims. A settlement can end the trial at any time, but if this does not happen, the trial ends in a verdict. The losing party may have a right to appeal an adverse decision.
St. Jude Defibrillator Injury Claim FAQs
In the aftermath of a battery failure or other St. Jude defibrillator-related injury, you may have questions regarding your situation, your rights, and what you can expect moving forward. This is completely normal. Parker Waichman is committed to providing answers to your legal questions on this or any other personal injury issue.
Are There St. Jude Defibrillator Lawsuits?
There have been numerous defective St. Jude defibrillator batteries lawsuits filed. The first, filed by the Alaska State Employees Association, was dismissed on technicalities. But the second, filed in Canada by an Ontario couple, ended in a $5 million settlement in 2019. Given the numerous issues surrounding these devices and the potentially deadly consequences when they fail, it’s highly likely that many more lawsuits will be filed in the future.
Can You Die With a Defibrillator?
The job of an implanted defibrillator is to shock the heart back into a regular rhythm if it’s beating out of sync, so it can prevent some cardiac deaths. But while a defibrillator can keep the heart beating if there’s an issue with the heart, it cannot stop other health issues.
What Are the Side Effects of a Defibrillator?
Complications of implantable defibrillators can include:
- Allergic reaction
- Swelling, bleeding, and bruising at the implant site
- Vein damage where the ICD is implanted
- Bleeding around the heart
- Blood leaking through the heart valve near the implantation site
- Collapsed lung
Can You Live a Long Life With a Defibrillator?
In most cases, a person can live a normal life with a defibrillator as long as they are careful and follow the rules their doctor sets for them.
How Much Does an Implanted Defibrillator Cost?
Without insurance, the cost of an ICD implant is between $30,000 and $50,000.
Have St. Jude Defibrillators Been Recalled?
Yes. The FDA has recalled approximately 400,000 defibrillators manufactured by St. Jude Medical Inc. prior to May 2015.
Which Devices Have Been Recalled?
If you had a defective St. Jude defibrillator implanted and that defibrillator caused you to suffer injuries, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your injuries, losses, and expenses. Some of the devices that have been included in recalls include:
- Fortify VR
- Fortify ST VR
- Fortify Assura VR
- Fortify Assura ST VR
- Fortify DR
- Fortify ST DR
- Fortify Assura DR
- Fortify Assura ST DR
- Unify Quadra
- Unify Assura
- Quadra Assura
- Quadra Assura MP
Evaluating whether you have grounds for a defective defibrillator lawsuit following a heart attack or other cardiac incident begins by determining if your ICD (or pacemaker) was manufactured by St. Jude Medical Inc. If it’s one of the models for which a recall has been issued, additional inquiry must be made into whether your St. Jude defibrillator had a faulty battery. If your St. Jude ICD is found to have such a defect, a final inquiry must be made to determine if your medical event or injury was caused by your ICD’s battery failure or defect.
Does the Fact That St. Jude Defibrillators Have Been Recalled Help My Case?
While the fact that several defibrillator models manufactured by St. Jude have been recalled certainly helps your case, this fact does not mean that you are automatically entitled to compensation. If your injuries and the losses you suffered can’t be linked to the defective defibrillator, you may not be entitled to compensation.
Will My Case Settle or Go to Trial?
It’s impossible to accurately predict which cases will settle out of court and which ones will proceed to trial. St. Jude may consider settling your case if the evidence in your favor is strong and its liability for your injuries is clear. But even if a settlement offer is made, this does not necessarily mean that the offer is in your best interests. Speak with your attorney first before accepting any settlement from the manufacturer to ensure that the terms of a St. Jude defibrillator lawsuit settlement adequately provide for and protect your interests.
Will My Case Need Expert Witnesses? Isn’t My Testimony Enough?
Because defibrillators are complicated devices and because an adverse health event may have more than one plausible explanation, expert witnesses are usually required to help the judge or jury understand whether your defibrillator was defective and led to your health issues and injuries.
What Rights Do I Have if I Have a St. Jude ICD but Never Attempted to Have the Device Replaced?
If you received notification that your ICD was subject to a recall but took no action, this does not necessarily relieve St. Jude of its legal obligations. However, failing to take appropriate action following a recall may impact the amount of compensation you can receive or if you can recover any compensation at all, depending on the laws in your state.
Talk With One of Our St. Jude
Defibrillator Attorneys Today
A St. Jude defibrillator-related injury and the costs you may incur as a result can be significant, and the process of seeking compensation for these losses can be time-consuming and confusing for those without experience in this particular area of the law. At Parker Waichman, our experienced attorneys are here to assist you in the aftermath of a St. Jude defibrillator-related injury or fatality. We’ll take on all of the work of skillfully handling your defective medical device claim so you can focus on your health and your recovery. Our law firm has recovered more than $2 billion in compensation for our clients through trial verdicts and settlements, and we’ll work tirelessly to bring your case to a successful conclusion.
If you may have grounds for a St. Jude implantable cardiac defibrillator pacemaker lawsuit, our lawyers are here to answer your questions and evaluate your case. Schedule a free consultation with our experienced St. Jude defibrillator attorneys today by calling 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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