Further hope for UK PIP breast implant victims
Campaigning PIP breast implant lawyer, Oliver Thorne, reports on the latest victory in the French courts which he says is good news for the many victims here in the UK.
Oliver Thorne, a partner in Slee Blackwell’s medical negligence team has been working with French lawyers to ensure PIP breast implants victims receive justice and are rightfully compensated.
The PIP scandal originally hit the headlines when it was discovered that PIP breast implants manufactured between 2002 and 2010 were made from an unauthorised gel. The manufacturer of the implants, French company Poly Implant Prothese, was convicted of fraud, but this prevented thousands of women who had been supplied with the faulty implants from seeking compensation.
The struggle for justice therefore turned to TUV Rheinland, a German products-testing company. Oliver and his legal counterparts in PIPA (PIP Implant World Victims Association) have been arguing in the French courts that the implants should never have been certified.
In rulings handed down on 12 February 2021, the Aix-En-Provence Court of Appeals upheld two judgments of the Toulon Commercial Court made in 2017. These recognised the liability of TUV as the certifier of breast implants manufactured by PIP.
The court allowed the claims of 13,456 women who had received PIP breast implants, specifying that medical assessments would now be required to quantify their losses. In the meantime the court provisionally awarded the claimants €3,000.
However, the court declared that the claims of 6,205 women were inadmissible because documents did not establish that they had received the specific implant model that had been certified by TUV.
In holding TUV responsible, the court said that the 1993 European Directive on medical devices imposed an obligation of vigilance on companies granting CE certification to products. This obligation is greater where products such as a breast implant could present a health risk to patients. In this situation it requires the certifier to verify the origin of the raw materials used. The court felt that if TUV had done so it would have enabled them to identify an obvious discrepancy between the quantity of gel purchased from the only authorised supplier and the number of breast prostheses manufactured by PIP.
The Commercial Court of Toulon, is now considering further new PIP breast implant lawsuits in relation to TUV, which could lead to a new waive of claims for compensation being made.