French courts open the way to compensation for victims
The Court of Appeal of Aix-en-Provence confirmed today the judgement of the Commercial Court of Toulon which in 2017 had condemned the certifier of fraudulent breast implants to compensate 20,000 patients of all nationalities (procedure TUV2/TUV3).
The company founded by Jean-Claude Mas has marketed breast implants filled with industrial silicone for 10 years. The certification issued by the German group TUV Rheinland allowed PIP to affix the CE mark to the adulterated products and thus market them worldwide.
According to Olivier Aumaître, the lawyer for PIPA, who as early as 2010 had sought TÜV’s liability, and who initiated the proceedings that led to today’s judgment, “this decision definitively opens the way to compensation for victims worldwide who are still eligible to act and can register with PIPA. It is a decisive victory after 10 years of judicial struggle in the service of victims“. According to him, “This ruling is in line with all the decisions handed down to date, and in particular that of the Court of Cassation [French Supreme Court] “, which in 2018 overturned a decision in favour of the certifier. “It is also consistent with the content of the case, which has become more and more damning for the certifier over the years” (see our full summary here).
According to the lawyer, this new conviction is “a further disavowal of TUV’s judicial strategy, which is essentially based on denial, concealment of documents and intimidation of victims, and which has proved to be a complete failure“.
The time for compensation finally seems to have come for the patients. In the first instance, the court had ordered an expertise for the 20,000 women involved in the proceedings. This work should now be accelerated and it is expected that the first final compensations will be awarded during the course of the year.
The experts have already recognised a permanent damage of anxiety to all PIP patients. They have to cope with heavy complications that worsen over time (rupture of the implant for at least half of them, inflammation of the lymph nodes due to the leak of silicone for a third of them, etc.). The amounts should reach several tens of thousands of euros for each victim.
Thus the sums requested by Olivier Aumaître for a first group of patients range from 20,000 to 70,000 euros, “an objective and realistic indemnity projection because it is based on the work of experts and on our expertise acquired over more than a decade“, the lawyer specifies.
According to Mr Aumaître, “TUV’s strategy, which is dilatory and contemptuous towards the victims, will result in an increase in the amount of compensation given the worsening of damages over time. TUV will have to take responsibility and be accountable for its choices” and “the bill will be heavy” for the German certification giant, which stubbornly refused to implement a negotiated solution.
The PIPA association has also just put a tool on line enabling each victim to assess for herself the compensation she will be able to obtain. The tool has been drawn up taking into account the assessment principles adopted by legal experts and is based on the case law of the Dintilhac nomenclature used by most French courts for the assessment of bodily injury.
It should be noted that new damage items may be added later on. It seems indeed that time has come to conduct an epidemiological study on PIP patients. It could reveal consequences, which have so far been minimised. For example, it is striking to note the high incidence of autistic disorders in children who were breastfed with TUV-certified silicone.
In any case, it is likely that compensation proceedings will continue for several years.
The limitation periods for personal injury are 10 years from the end of the suffering. Patients who have not yet applied for compensation are therefore still on schedule. For Olivier Aumaître “the time of hesitation and wait-and-see attitude is over, victims must now join the ongoing proceedings without delay before it is too late. Our teams are ready and mobilised; we have remarkable tools at our disposal to help them obtain compensation“.
Those who wish to do so can join the TUV 5 procedure, which is already underway. All they need to do is register on the PIPA website now and before 31 March 2021: