Victims of rupture-prone fraudulent PIP breast implants deserve compensation, French court rules

A German firm that certified substandard PIP breast implants must pay damages to victims of the fraud, a Paris court has ruled. Hundreds of thousands of women worldwide received the faulty implants in the 2000s.

The ruling by the Paris Court of Appeal sets a significant step forward for victims of the now-defunct French firm Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), which made the implants. The particular case was brought up by 2,700 women, a small fraction of an estimated 400,000 recipients of the faulty implants, most of them in Latin America and Europe.

The prosthetics manufactured by PIP had used cheaper industrial-grade silicone gel instead of a medical-grade filler. While technically not toxic, the implants were two to six times more prone to rupture than their properly-made counterparts.

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Gel leakage can result in many unpleasant symptoms like burning sensations and misshapen breasts. There is also a risk of serious mental strain for affected women, who may get anxious about having the implants in their bodies and who may not afford their replacement.

The case heard on Thursday in Paris was initiated in 2011 and targets TUV Rheinland, a subsidiary of a large German testing service network, over its role as certifier of the implants. The French appeals court confirmed the firm’s responsibility and said victims of the fraud deserved full compensation. A judgement on the amount in damages is expected in September, an advocacy group has said.

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“After 10 years of waiting and fierce combat, the German certifier will have to fully compensate the victims,” lawyer Olivier Aumaitre of the PIP implant world victims association (PIPA) said.

The French producer of PIP implants was shut down in 2010 after staying in business for almost a decade and liquidated. Its founder Jean-Claude Mas was later given a four-year prison sentence and a fine for aggravated fraud.

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