NewsCourt: TÜV bears responsibility in the breast implant scandal

Court: TÜV bears responsibility in the breast implant scandal

Tear-prone silicone pads in the chest – this is a painful truth for many women. They fight for pain and suffering in courts. But who is responsible for the botch?

Paris (dpa) – In the legal dispute over inferior breast implants that has been going on for years, an appeals court has once again determined that TÜV Rheinland is responsible.

This is responsible for the “culpable omissions and omissions in the fulfillment of his tasks and obligations in the monitoring of the quality system” in the certification of the production of the manufacturer Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP), it said in the judgment of the Paris Court of Appeal on Thursday. At the same time, the court also dismissed the claims of numerous women.

The scandal is a never-ending saga and was uncovered in 2010. The now insolvent manufacturer PIP had used cheap industrial silicone for its implants for years. According to estimates, the implants, which are prone to tearing, could have been used in hundreds of thousands of women worldwide – including women from Germany. The victims reported about silicone pads from which the gel had seeped out.

As an independent testing service provider, TÜV Rheinland had certified the quality assurance procedure of PIP – i.e. awarded the seal of quality. The plaintiffs therefore accuse him of sloppiness. They argue that surprising controls could have uncovered the botch. The company, on the other hand, sees itself as a victim of PIP’s deception and stresses that it has not breached any obligations.

The legal dispute against TÜV Rheinland has been dragging itself through the courts in France for years – with contradicting results. A few thousand women have sued in the current proceedings. In another case in February with around 20,000 plaintiffs, the court of appeal in Aix-en-Provence had sentenced TÜV Rheinland to a fine of millions. In another proceeding with a few hundred plaintiffs, the Versailles Court of Appeal had denied that the TÜV was liable.

In the current proceedings, the Paris Court of Appeal also dismissed the claims of a number of women – especially in cases in which implants were implanted before September 2006. In addition, complaints have been dismissed in which those affected could not prove that they had the corresponding implants in question had been inserted. At the same time, it confirmed the decision of 2013, according to which the TÜV “violated its control, due diligence and vigilance obligations”.

The women affected had to suffer for a very long time, said Olivier Aumaître, victim lawyer for numerous plaintiffs, in a press conference of the victims’ association PIPA World. He welcomed the decision and stressed that the lawsuit had not been dismissed by any of the clients he represents. “It’s a great relief,” said one of those affected, Christine. Finally, the victim status of those affected is recognized – they still have major health problems. The victims would have to struggle with the consequences for their entire lives, said Marylyn from Venezuela.

“TÜV Rheinland acknowledges that a large part of the lawsuits were dismissed by the Paris Court of Appeal,” said TÜV’s attorney, Christelle Coslin, according to the announcement. They reject, however, that TÜV Rheinland is liable in the other cases, even if only partially. “This decision contradicts the judgment of the European Court of Justice of February 2017 and that of the Court of Appeal in Versailles of January 2021.”

At the time, the ECJ ruled that bodies such as TÜV were not fundamentally obliged to test medical devices such as implants themselves or to carry out unannounced inspections at the manufacturers’ premises. However, the court also ruled that national courts could find that investigators may be liable to patients. The TÜV emphasizes that at no point did it have any indications that the breast implants manufactured by PIP were not compliant.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210520-99-677689 / 4

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