A CPAP machine, just like mine. This one is made by the good folks at ResMed– which is not the manufacturer at issue here.  Image: Mosquitopsu, via Wiki.

A real world illustration has become fairly frequent of late… but it needs a bit of personal background.

Some years ago, my life changed dramatically– and for the better.  My doctor sent me to a lab for a sleep study, in which I spent the night in a hospital room that had been dressed up in the style of a very spartan hotel.  A nurse attached no fewer than 137 electrodes to various parts of my upper body and lower legs and then said “sleep tight” before her shift ended and she went home.  This was at 11pm, and I was nowhere near tired, so I channel surfed for an hour or so, and finally dozed off, remote in hand.

Around 7am, a different nurse shook me awake and said “go home, kid.”

But wait, I said.  Tell me about the test!

“Oh, you’ll have to talk to your doctor about that.  I can’t diagnose you.  Although… you registered twice the minimum number of episodes to be diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, so I suggest that you get used to looking like Luke Skywalker when you sleep.”

Three mornings later, I woke up feeling more refreshed than I had in years.  Quite literally, a little machine, no bigger than a shoe box, had forced my airway to stay open all through the night, so I could breathe… continuously.  It was a miracle called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure… CPAP for short.*

Fast forward to last month, and a recall comes out from Koninklijke Philips N.V., the Dutch electronics conglomerate that I usually have served in IP suits.  Turns out that the foam sound baffling material in Philips’ CPAP machines can disintegrate and be inhaled or– given the CPAP’s entire purpose– forced into the user’s lungs.  It’s unhealthy, to say the least, and possibly even carcinogenic.  So Philips has wisely recalled the problematic devices.

But now come the plaintiffs into court… courts worldwide.**  And they have to serve Philips… in The Netherlands, which implicates the Hague Service Convention and all of its quirks.

A huge challenge, you ask?  Not really.  Here’s the How-To guide to serving a Dutch defendant in its (or his/her) home country, complete with a couple of handy tips on keeping costs reined in.  [Hint… scroll to the bottom for our digits.]

* Thanks to other miracles of modern medicine, I don’t need the machine anymore.  Best result?  No snoring… which pleases my wife to no end.

** See the Boston Globe’s more comprehensive coverage of the issue– and some of those suits– here.