The recipients of faulty PIP breast implants-which have been known to rupture and leak-will receive compensation from TUV Rheinland.
A French court has ordered German safety company TUV Rheinland to pay upward of 17,000 women compensation for PIP breast implants which were manufactured by the bankrupt company Poly-Implant-Prothese.
The class action against the German company – which certified the safety of the PIP implants – has been several years in the making, and is one of the largest of its kind. IT was brought on the basis that TUV Rheinland had a responsibility to check the quality of the implants before issuing Poly-Implant-Prothese with a guarantee that they conformed to European standards. However, the class action alleged that TUV Rheinland had been negligent in their duty and no such checks were made. Therefore, Poly-Implant-Prothese substituted a low grade of industrial silicone in place of the Europe-approved type in order to reduce manufacturing costs and maximise profit.
A French study revealed that nearly 25% of PIP breast implants burst or leaked. Some of these incidents have caused medical complications when the silicone gel secreted into the victims´ lymph nodes, and one woman in France is known to have died due to anaplastic large cell lymphoma. No long-term side effects have yet been confirmed, and experts believe that it may be many years before the full effect of the faulty PIP breast implants is known.
TUV Rheinland’s legal team argued in court that the company was a victim of fraud. They state that TUV Rheinland’s only responsibility was to audit Poly-Implant-Prothese´s paperwork, and not check the safety of the implants themselves. However, solicitors representing the claimants said that TUV Rheinland failed to do its job properly and gave “global credibility” to a product which did not deserve it. It also emerged in court that the employee in charge of quality control had only a cookery diploma, while another in charge of the laboratory had previously trained as a pastry chef, and therefore were not qualified to perform the tasks required of them.
After hearing evidence on behalf of TUV Rheinland and the 17,000 claimants from Britain, France and South America, judges at the Commercial Court in Toulon found TUV Rheinland had “neglected its duties of vigilance” and awarded each claimant €3,000 (£2,500) immediately for the removal of their faulty breast implants, and a further €13,000 (£10,900) compensation for PIP breast implants to be received at a later date subject to an appeal by TUV Rheinland.
The verdict provides an opportunity for up to 400,000 women worldwide to claim compensation for PIP breast implants. Jan Spivey – spokeswoman for the British plaintiffs and the PIP Action Campaign group – said “I am delighted. It is a first important victory for PIP victims worldwide and especially those British victims who have received no help from the health service or the Government. It means that they can start to get the surgical help [to replace defective implants] that they urgently need.”