Kaiser Lost Product Liability Suit Evidence, Family Claims
3-27-2014 01:28:00

    PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - Kaiser nurses lost or threw away a defective hearing aid, compromising a family’s ability to collect from the manufacturer in a product liability suit, they claim in court.
     Peter and Karyn St. John sued Kaiser Permanente and two John/Jane Doe nurses, as guardians of Sydney St. John – now three years old – for negligent spoliation. They seek declaratory judgment on the amount of a lien Kaiser has against their potential future settlement, a jury trial, and $100,000 for the diminution of their claim against the implant manufacturer.
     In May 2010, Sydney was born completely deaf, according to the complaint. She had a series of newborn hearing tests and was found to be a candidate for surgically implanted cochlear hearing aids, according to the complaint.
     At 11 months old, Sydney had two Cochlear Nucleus C1512 devices implanted, one into each ear, the complaint continues. That same year, the manufacturer, Cochlear Company “learned that several of its hearing devices had malfunctioned, including the C1500 product line. A percentage of the devices had developed micro-cracks which allowed water molecules to enter the implants and caused them to fail,” it states.
     One at a time, each of Sydney’s implants failed and was replaced at Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital, the St. Johns claim. Kaiser only kept one, which Cochlear Company inspected, concluding that it failed because of micro-cracks, according to the complaint. The other implant, Kaiser lost or threw away, the St. Johns claim, and “as a result, Cochlear Company was unable to determine whether it had malfunctioned and the cause of the failure.”
     Now Cochlear Company is offering to settle, the complaint states, but Kaiser has placed a $152,200 lien against the future settlement. “Plaintiffs believe Kaiser’s lien includes reimbursement for the replacement cochlear devices, which cost $20,000 each. Cochlear provided the replacement implants to Kaiser free of charge,” the complaint states.
     “Plaintiffs have repeatedly contacted Kaiser to obtain itemization of the surgery and to negotiate a reduction of the amounts claimed under the lien, but Kaiser has not responded,” it continues.
     The St. Johns say they want the matter of the lien cleared up before they accept Cochlear Company’s settlement offer.
     The family is represented by Michael L. Williams and Leslie W. O’Leary of Williams O’Leary in Portland.