Update on the Defibrillator Class Action Lawsuit

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Defibrillator Class Action Lawsuit Defective Products

Update on the Defibrillator Class Action Lawsuit

For those people who have developed or suffered serious injury from flawed implanted debrillators manufactured by Guidant Corporation (now part of Boston Scientific as of January 2006), a class action lawsuit may be a more effective legal option rather than an individual lawsuit against the device manufacturer.

A class action lawsuit basically combines the claims of all the affected recipients of Guidant faulty heart defibrillators into one representative action. Cases are initiated by one or more affected parties, called representatives. Members of a class are given a chance to opt out of the suit. If they do not opt out of the class, they are bound by the decision of the court. If successful, the court judgment or settlement is distributed among the class members.

There are several benefits to a Guidant defibrillator class action lawsuit. It makes sense when an individual’s claim is too small to justify an individual separate action because of the high costs of litigation. By combining your action with others, you collectively will have more clout in terms of numbers against a larger, more powerful corporation, increasing the likelihood of recovery. Pooling also conserves court resources and lowers the costs of litigation.

There are some downsides to joining a Guidant defibrillator class action lawsuit. For instance, your award that you will personally receive will probably be lower than what you could have gotten in an individual suit because the total award in a class action lawsuit is distributed among the class members. You are also bound to the timetable and decision of that class action suit. A class member cannot negotiate his/her own individual settlement or later sue for a higher amount or for a different remedy. In a separate filing, personalized legal representation is given to your individual issues and circumstances; you are not lumped in with all the others having comparable claims.

Finding recourse for faulty defibrillators recently became a daunting task in the United States. In February 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in Riegel v. Medtronics that patients injured by certain medical devices approved by the FDA cannot sue the product’s manufacturer. As of August 2008, the Supreme Court’s ruling is being challenged in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. For more information on individual lawsuits, see the sections on Filing a Lawsuit and How to Select a Lawyer.

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