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10,000 Irish women could be victims of faulty PIP implants: lawyers

Potential €150 million lawsuit against PIP certifier on behalf of local patients even if implants haven’t ruptured.
Sep 8th 2014, 1:03 PM 8,733 12

THOUSANDS OF IRISH women who were fitted with faulty breast implants could get payouts of up to €15,000 for the defective devices following the global PIP scandal.

All women who received flawed Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) manufactured implants – regardless of whether they have caused any medical complications – are being urged to join a worldwide class action going through the French courts.

The number of Irish women who received the implants were previously thought to number about 1,500, but lawyers leading the case for UK and Irish patients today put the likely figure at closer to 10,000.

It covers women who had PIP implants fitted both in Ireland and overseas, and includes scores of women who were given the implants during reconstructive surgery after suffering breast cancer, as well as those who got implants for cosmetic reasons.

Local lawyers from the Stanton Fisher Group have been working on the action with French lawyer Olivier Aumaitre, who launched a successful case against German certification giant TUV.

Case against TUV

The company was responsible for declaring faulty PIP implants – fitted with industrial-grade silicon, rather than the required medical-strength material – as safe for use.

PIP went bust in 2009 after a rush of legal complaints, but TUV has been declared negligent for approving the faulty devices.

Some 1,700 women were awarded interim payouts of €3,000 as part of the case, which was upheld earlier this year, although an appeal has to be heard before final damages are worked out.

“Moral and emotional damage”

Speaking in Dublin today, Aumaitre said claims for compensation could include the “moral and emotional damage” caused by faulty implants and women were entitled to payouts from TUV even if the devices had not ruptured.

(TUV) only performed a very light, very informal control … my point of view from the beginning is that should TUV have normally performed its duty then the scandal would have been detected in time,” he said.

Aumaitre said it was “reasonable to assume” PIP recipients would receive between €10,000 and €15,000 as final compensation, including the €3,000 interim payment already awarded by the French judges.

High stakes

Dublin solicitor David Coleman, who has been representing 45 women in separate High Court cases against TUV, said the “stakes are extremely high” for the multinational company, which was facing a potential bill of €150 million just from Irish claimants.

This is an opportunity for victims of this appalling tragedy to finally receive some compensation for what happened to them,” he said.

The Stanton Fisher Group has said it will charge no up-front fees and PIP recipients only need to prove they received the faulty implants to be eligible.

No need to remove intact implants One of the PIP implants. Source: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/Press Association Images

PIP prosecution

PIP supplied defective breast implants filled with substandard silicone gel, which caused many to rupture – in some cases leading to inflammation and scar tissue.

An estimated 300,000 women in 65 countries were caught up in the worldwide health scare.

The company’s founder, Frenchman Jean-Claude Mas, was sentenced to four years in prison for fraud in December with lesser sentences handed to four other PIP executives.

France Breast Implants Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of Poly Implant Prothese, was sentenced to four years in prison for fraud. Source: Claude Paris/AP/Press Association Images

No action on ruptured implants

It was initially thought only PIP implants used between 2001 and 2010 were affected in the major health scare, although French officials later advised earlier implants may also have been filled with potentially harmful, low-grade silicone.

In Ireland, the HSE has said it will cover the removal of ruptured implants, but the procedure does not include replacements or preventative surgery for women fitted with PIP implants who are yet to experience any problems.

READ: New regulation for cosmetic surgery clinics on the way

READ: Former head of breast implant company PIP arrested in France

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Peter Bodkin

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