PIP breast implant scandal: French court rules victims should get compensation

  • Video report by ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan

Thousands of women, including 540 Britons, who were victims of defective breast implants made by a French company, are entitled to receive financial compensation, a French court has ruled.The Paris appeal court also upheld an earlier ruling that German company TUV Rheinland committed negligence by certifying them as safe.

“It’s clearly a historical day for PIP breast implant victims all over the world and for women’s rights,” said Olivier Aumaître, the lawyer representing the initial 2,700 women who brought the case, said.

Thursday’s ruling, which might not be final and could go to another higher court, was announced by France-based association PIPA, which represents victims.

PIPA said that the amount of compensation is still to be determined.

  • ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan speaks to one British woman and how the impact of the ruling could be felt across the world

The scandal first emerged in 2010 after doctors noticed abnormally high rupture rates in women with implants produced by the French company Poly Implant Prothese, or PIP.

It was revealed that the company had been filling its implants with cheap industrial silicone - that was not suitable for use in humans - instead of medical silicone for years.

This caused an international health scare as it raised alarms of the implants possibly causing cases of breast cancer and even death due to system toxicity.

The PIP implants were used in roughly 300,000 to 400,000 women across 65 countries, including in those undergoing mastectomies as part of their cancer treatment.

Lawyers for TUV Rheinland did not immediately comment.

Victims of PIP's faulty breast implants demanded compensation.

The ruling, Aumaître hopes, might have implications for the many other victims, although he conceded he was “not aware of other compensation wins in other countries”.

Christine, a victim, who did not want to give her surname, said that “it is a relief today, as we can acknowledge our status as victims. Almost all of us have lasting effects. I still have silicone in my organs”.

British women affected by the PIP breast implant scandal have also welcomed the ruling.

Gail Coxon, a woman involved in the case, told the BBC she felt a “huge sense of relief” after hearing of the court’s decision.

Ms Coxon added: “I can’t explain it, I have burst into tears I don’t know how many times this morning."

PIP was liquidated in 2010. Its founder, Jean-Claude Mas, was later given a four-year prison sentence, but died in 2019.

TUV defence lawyer Cecile Derycke has suggested TUV Rheinland was being targeted as a scapegoat because it is solvent.

TUV Lawyer Christelle Coslin told the AP that “TUV Rheinland denies all responsibility. The missing link here is the actual liable party”.