News reports state that in 2013, a federal jury awarded an 11-year old girl $7.25 million in damages after she suffered severe electric shocks from a cochlear ear implant. The jury awarded over $6 million in punitive damages in the cochlear implant lawsuit, finding that the manufacturer recklessly disregarded patient safety by continuing to sell the devices despite evidence that they may be leaking and defective. Other patients who have sustained injuries from a cochlear implant may be eligible to pursue compensation with the help of a defective medical device lawyer.
For more information, contact Attorney Group today. Our consultations are free, confidential and without any obligation on your part. We can help answer your questions, and if you choose to pursue a claim we can connect you with an affiliated cochlear implant lawsuit attorney who can assist you throughout the legal process.
Cochlear Implant Lawsuit Details
According to USA Today, the child in the cochlear implant lawsuit had the device implanted in 2006 when she was just four years old. When she was eight, the implant caused an electric shock so violent it threw her to the ground, convulsing andvomiting. The child was shocked twice more before doctors removed the device, replacing it with a different model in a surgery that took more than seven hours. The parents sued the manufacturer, Advance Bionics, and the substantial jury verdict is among the first of approximately 40 lawsuits filed nationwide. Documents suggest that Advance Bionics was aware of the defective devices but delayed disclosing the problems until after the company was sold. Of the 4,000 devices sold, more than 1,000 have allegedly failed.
What Are Cochlear Implants?
A cochlear implant is a small, electronic device that can help people who are profoundly deaf or hard-of-hearing develop a sense of sound. The device consists of a microphone, a speech processor, a transmitter and an array of electrodes. It does not restore hearing but can allow a deaf person to understand speech through a useful representation of sounds. Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants do not amplify sounds. They bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. The implants are often used by small children so that they are exposed to sounds during an age when speech and language development are critical.
Has There Been a Cochlear Implant Recall?
According to a report from NBC News, the manufacturer may have continued to sell the cochlear implants after learning that a “significant number of the devices had failed.” A timeline compiled by the network states that:
- January 2003 – Advanced Bionics engineer warns that a key component of the implant “may be vulnerable for a potential leak.”
- March 2004 – Advanced Bionics executive admits the company hadn’t conducted a key test “that mimics the human body.”
- August 2004 – FDA inspection finds 237 explanted devices with high levels of moisture.
- September 2004 – Advanced Bionics HiRes 90k is recalled due to “unexplained moisture” causing some implant failures.
- November 2004 – Advanced Bionics HiRes 90k is returned to the market.
- February 2005 – FDA sends warning letter to Advanced Bionics.
- February 2005 – Advanced Bionics company president states “product failures continue to occur at an alarming rate.” He says the company is “in significant danger of losing all of our key accounts in NYC ie NYU and Beth Israel because of failed devices.”
- Summer 2005 – Advanced Bionics continues to receive reports of failed implants due to excessive moisture.
When these devices suffer hard failure, requiring children to undergo long, risky revision surgeries, families may have a basis to file a cochlear implant lawsuit. In September 2012, the Australian government issued a medical device recall on the Cochlear Nucleus CI500 range of devices. One Cochlear implant lawsuit claims that the moisture-impervious seal of the titanium chassis failed, allowing moisture inside the implant and causing it to fail. In some cases, like the child who recently was awarded a judgment, the devices caused severe electric shock.
Other Cochlear Implant Risks
According to WedMD, other risks of Cochlear implants include:
- Nerve injury that changes your sense of taste
- Nerve damage that causes weakness or paralysis in your face
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Loss of the hearing you have left
- Ringing in your ears, called tinnitus
- Leaks of the fluid around the brain
- The device doesn’t work or gets infected, which may mean you’ll have to remove and replace the implant
- Meningitis, an infection of the membranes around the brain. It’s a rare but serious complication. Children and people with abnormally formed inner ears seem to be at higher risk. The FDA and CDC recommend vaccines for anyone who gets a cochlear implant to lower their risk for the disease.
How a Cochlear Implant Lawsuit Can Help
Medical device makers have a duty to provide safe products. If there are risks of harm associated with their devices, they also must provide adequate warnings. If a device maker fails to fulfill this duty, it could be held liable in lawsuits for injuries that may result.
Patients and the families of children who are injured by cochlear implant may be entitled to compensation for damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- The permanency of the injury
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish
Patients who have suffered severe complications from cochlear implants, as well as the families of children who have suffered as a result of complications with the device, are encouraged to seek the advice of a cochlear implant lawsuit attorney to learn more about their rights and remedies.
To learn more about a cochlear implant lawsuit, contact Attorney Group. When you contact us, an attorney will follow up with you to speak with you about your case or answer questions that you might have. There is no cost or obligation to speak with us, and any information you provide will be kept confidential.
Please note that the law limits the time you have to pursue a claim or file a lawsuit for an injury. If you think you have a case, you should not delay taking action.