Hundreds of British women who were victims of one of the worst breast implant scandals in recent history are entitled to compensation, the Paris Appeal Court ruled today.
It follows French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), which is now out of business, using industrial-grade silicon intended for mattresses in their medical products.
They had double the rupture rate of other implants and caused extreme pain to those who used them.
The scandal affected some 7,000 women in the UK, and 300,000 women in as many as 65 countries.
The Paris Appeal Court on Thursday ruled that more than 2,500 women across the world are entitled to pay-outs because of this.
It follows French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), which is now out of business, using industrial-grade silicon intended for mattresses in their medical products
Among them are 540 British women who say they have suffered long-term health effects.
The German company TUV Rheinland, which originally awarded safety certificates for the faulty implants, was sued for negligence in the case.
WHAT WAS THE PIP SCANDAL?
French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), which is now out of business, was found to have made silicon breast implants using silicon intended for mattresses, not for medical use.
PIP implants were withdrawn from use in the UK in 2010, but by it is estimated 47,000 woman had the implants before this happened.
20,000 women sued the company responsible for testing the implants – TUV Rheinland – and were awarded £2,600 each.
PIP implants are not though to pose any serious health risk, but are two to six times more likely to rupture.
If they rupture they should be removed because they can become misshapen and cause pain, swelling and enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit.
The NHS does not recommend women having PIP implants removed unless they are problematic – women can discuss the implants with their surgeon if they are concerned.
Most PIP implants were used in private clinics and hospitals, but a small number were given in NHS operations for women who had breast cancer surgery.
Paris barrister Olivier Aumaitre, who represents the women, confirmed the ruling, saying: ‘We are delighted with this outcome which definitively puts an end to the doubts about TUV’s responsibility’.
TUV was ordered by a French court in 2017 to pay £52million (€60million) to 20,000 women who received the implants.
The firm was found liable over the global scandal in 2010 when it emerged that French firm Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) had made implants with substandard silicone.
But TUV appealed, and victims awarded compensation were issued with legal papers warning them they may have to pay back some £2,500 each.
Jan Spivey, co-founder of PIP Action Campaign, said at the time: ‘The idea women may have to pay back money intended to help them is morally bankrupt.
‘That TUV are trying to attack the integrity of the victims’ claims is scandalous.’
TUV has maintained that it was not responsible for what the implants were made of, only the way they were produced.
Ms Spivey, who was given PIP implants after she had a mastectomy due to breast cancer, suffered aches, fatigue and anxiety after the PIP implants leaked silicone into her body.
‘My PIP implants from 20 years ago are still impacting on my life and my health and my wellbeing, even today’ said Ms Spivey.
‘I think I’ve been angry every single day for the 20 years I’ve been affected by PIP.’
Mr Aumaitre said today’s judgement was hugely important to around 2,700 others.
‘We will probably reach a turning point,’ said Mr Aumaitre. A positive decision will probably put an end to the long period of doubt we’ve been going through during so many years.’
Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of PIP, was sentenced to four years in prison for fraud in 2013, and died in April aged 79.
The founder of PIP, Jean-Claude Mas (pictured in 2013) was sentenced to four years in prison for fraud in 2013. He died in 2019 aged 79
As reported last year by MailOnline, TUV launched an appeal against the court’s 2017 decision to award compensation to PIP’s victims.
Some 13,000 victims awarded compensation were then issued with legal papers warning them they may have to pay back the money if they are successful in court.
TUV Rheinland said at the time they had been forced to send papers directly to victims’ homes as the legal team representing the women had failed to register with the court, in compliance with French law.
The firm warned last September ‘As the claimants should have been advised by their lawyers, they will have to reimburse the provisional amounts paid to them if TUV Rheinland wins on appeal.’
Sarah Higginson, from Andover in Hampshire, was awarded an payout of £3,000 in 2017 for implants she had in 2008, leaving her with £2,085.48 after legal fees.
The 39-year-old told the BBC in 2019 that the visit by bailiffs left her suffering with anxiety and panic attacks and she feared if the appeal was successful money would have to be paid back.
Sarah Higginson said the visits from the bailiff’s left her suffering with anxiety and panic attacks
Victims who were sent legal letters in 2019 included Stephanie Lee (left) and Amanda Carter (right)
She said: ‘We had to wait years for the small amount of compensation we did get and that didn’t even cover the cost of the surgery and now we’re getting this treatment with people turning up with papers left, right and centre.
‘It is causing long term mental damage. It’s all of that on top of that worry about what’s inside you.’
Amanda Carter, from Kettering, Northamptonshire, had PIP implants in 2002.
Speaking about the legal letters in 2019, she said: ‘It’s been hugely concerning.
‘A lot of women are concerned that a bailiff at their door means that they can come in and take their possessions and a lot of people have presumed they are there to collect.’
Stephanie Lee from Kidderminster, Worcestershire, had the implants in 2008.
She said after receiving the papers: ‘It’s terrifying.
‘It’s like having a court summons. You think, is a bailiff suddenly going to turn up at the house and take stuff away?’