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$7.25M Cochlear Ear Implant Defect Verdict Awarded to Family of Girl Who Suffered Electric Shocks

A jury has awarded the family of Breanna Sadler a $7.25 million defective ear implant verdict. The 11-year-old girl, who was born deaf, suffered electrical shock multiple times four years after she was implanted with a Cochlear ear implant. Because the defective medical device had to be taken out of her skull and replaced with a competitor model, Sadler was forced to undergo a lengthy open-head surgery.

In their Cochlear ear implant lawsuit against manufacturer Advance Bionics, they claim that the company kept selling the faulty device even after they knew there was a problem with it while delaying disclosure of the defect to make a profit. They say that one electric shock incident was so painful for Sadler she screamed that her face felt like it was melting and on fire. The implant had to be disconnected and for several weeks Breanna was forced to stay completely deaf until the removal/replacement surgery could take place.

Meantime, Advance Bionics unsuccessfully argued that medical device federal regulation pre-empted the family’s lawsuit. They also tried to place some of the blame on a supplier that provided the part that they believe caused the electric shock. Advance Bionics claims that Sadler’s ear implant failed because moisture got in through a “feed-through,” which is the part that transmits electronic signals into the inner ear.

The family’s ear implant defect case is the first of numerous similar cases to go to trial. Of the family’s $7.25 million verdict, $6.25 million is in punitive damages for the manufacturer’s allegedly reckless disregard of patients and their safety, $750,000 is for Sadler’s pain and suffering, $236,325 for medical bills, and approximately $10,000 is for her parents’ lost income and travel costs.

In early 2006, several weeks after Sadler received her implant, Advance Bionics voluntarily recalled its HiRes 90Kdevices. In 2008, the manufacturer paid a $1.1 million fine to the US Food and Drug Administration over allegations that it did not tell the regulator that it had a new parts supplier.

Cochlear Ear Implant Cases
A number of Cochlear ear implants have been recalled over the past years because of parts defects. Some of these devices have been linked to injuries, pain, and discomfort. Symptoms of a possible Cochlear implant defect may include:

• Loud noises in the ear • Cracking or popping sounds • Shocks to the face • Pain • Reduced hearing • Violent outbursts

Kids are the primary users of the Cochlear ear device, of which about 4,000 have been implanted. The device is for people who are profoundly deaf and don’t get much benefit from hearing aids. The implant is supposed to electrically stimulate nerves in the inner ear and generate hearing sensations. Currents activate the auditory nerve, which transmits a signal to the brain.

In Massachusetts, contact our defective medical device law firm today.

Jury awards $7.25M for hearing aid that severely shocked, USA Today, April 18, 2013

Cochlear Implants


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