Alaska union-benefits fund sues Abbott over faulty St. Jude defibrillators

An Alaska union-benefits fund filed a federal lawsuit Monday against Abbott Laboratories, claiming the company' subsidiary, St. Jude Medical, failed to warn regulators and patients about defective lithium batteries in its defibrillators for years, reports StarTribune.

The fund, known as the Alaska State Employees Association/AFSCME Local 52 Health Benefits Trust, alleges St. Jude knowingly sold 250,000 defibrillators with faulty batteries between 2011 and October 2016. While the lawsuit alleges St. Jude was aware of the battery defect, which could cause the heart devices to spontaneously lose power, the company did not recall the devices until 2016, according to the report.

"If defendants had not omitted … or misrepresented the defects in the recalled devices, physicians would not have used the recalled devices," the lawsuit reads. "Accordingly, plaintiff and the other nationwide class members would not have incurred costs for the recalled devices and the medical costs of device removal and replacement surgery and other related medical costs."

The lawsuit is seeking punitive damages and class-action status to represent self-insured companies and commercial payers who paid for the defective devices.

An Abbott spokeswoman on Tuesday told StarTribune the lawsuit has no merit. St. Jude leaders have previously defended the company's decision to wait until October 2016 to recall the devices, saying employees worked as quickly as possible to confirm the battery issues, according to the report.


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