The Paris Court of Appeal has today ruled in favour of victims of PIP implants across the UK.
TUV Rhineland, the European safety certifying body, has been held liable to pay thousands in compensation to the women who received faulty implants. The implants (manufactured by the now liquidated French company Poly Implant Prothèse) contained non-medical grade silicone, with a significantly higher rupture rate. It was on account of the safety certificates produced by TUV Rhineland that these implants were allowed into the market and then into the bodies of women.
Today has been a bittersweet victory for my clients. We are absolutely over the moon that the approach taken by the Paris appeal court was the correct one, and after a very long journey the women affected can now achieve closure on this chapter of their life.
It should however never have happened. Not only did the checks and balances in place to prevent this fail; but for thousands of women across the UK their treating clinics were able to wash their hands of them, meaning we had to raise their claim in the foreign jurisdiction of the implant manufacture. Our clients’ clinics liquidated we believe to avoid liability for these claims, and yet were able to reopen under the same name, trade from the same premises, and utilise the same surgeons as before. They refused not only to remove and replace the implants without cost (which as the seller/supplier of defective goods they were required to in law) before liquidation, but also refused to meet with their patients and information share to alleviate their fears at a time where we had absolutely no idea what was in these implants.
The treating clinics and their insurers have been complicit in a campaign of absolute secrecy from day one to protect their finances when all their patients needed was reassurance to protect their mental health. This is all after the manufacturer of a medical product was able to play like a child mixing potions, with quantities and measurements of whatever they felt like that day, before having them stamped with the CE mark.
TUV Rhineland for the best part of ten years has lead a horrifying defence that essentially states the CE mark is meaningless and doesn’t and shouldn’t guarantee any type of safety (when that’s exactly its purpose). The CE mark that is used on medical products, electrical goods, children’s toys, would be reduced to nothing more than a pair of letters had they been successful today. Fortunately the French court didn’t accept this, and today can provide comfort not only to my clients but all consumers across Europe.
The ruling today is the very final decision of the first group of women’s cases litigated in France against TUV. This is the first batch of five cohorts (named TUV 1 though to TUV 5 in order of when they were put into court) with TUV 1 set to have their claims valued by the court in September this year. I call on TUV Rhineland in light of this precedent to meet with me and my clients, and begin settling the cases in the rest of the groups without any further delay.
Blog by Catherine McGarrell, Solicitor