Women with faulty breast implants could win payout

Lawyers say French courts likely to make awards of €15,000 in PIP scandal

Thousands of Irish women who were fitted with faulty PIP breast implants could be in line for a €150 million compensation payout from the French courts.

Up to 10,000 Irish women could receive €10-15,000 in compensation arising from physical and psychological damage and expenses after their silicone gel implants were discovered to be unsafe, a group of lawyers has claimed.

Up to now, women seeking redress over the PIP (Poly Implant Prothèse) scandal have reached an impasse in the Irish legal system, because many of the clinics which fitted their devices have gone out of business.

However, recent judgments in the French courts have opened up the prospects of affected women claiming compensation against the company which certified the product in that country. PIP, a French company, has gone bankrupt and its chief executive has been jailed for four years for aggravated fraud.


Last November, the French courts ordered an interim payment of €3,000 each to a group of French women who took proceeding against a German company, TUV, and its French subsidiary, which certified the product, with the full extent of compensation to be assessed at a later date.

Irish firm Coleman Legal Partners, which says it handles thousands of Irish PIP clients, has teamed up with the French lawyer who took that case, Olivier Aumaitre, and UK firm Stanton Fisher to pursue similar proceedings on behalf of British and Irish women.

Speaking in Dublin today, Mr Aumaitre said he was cautiously optimistic that final settlements of up to €15,000 per woman could be achieved in the TUV litigation, which that company is appealling.

“There is still time for Irish women to join if they want to seek compensation,” Mr Aumaitre said, adding that a woman’s implant need not have leaked in order for her to take proceedings.

Mr Coleman said 3,000 women had the implants fitted in Ireland, while another 7,000 travelled to the UK and other countries to have them fitted. If damages are awarded, the legal consortium's fees will be 15 per cent plus VAT.

Mr Coleman said his firm is bringing forward 45 cases against TUV before the Irish courts and a decision would be taken later whether to proceed with these, in light of the French litigation.

The Health Service Executive has told the affected women it will fund their removal on medical grounds, but will not pay for replacement implants.

It says international reports show that there are no medical, toxicological or other data to justify removal of an intact PIP implant.

This means women have to fund the replacement of the devices, if this is their desired option.

An estimated 300,000 people in 65 countries were affected by the scandal, and over 3,000 cases of undesirable effects were reported.

Over half of all PIP implants in Ireland were fitted by the Harley Medical Group, which has gone into liquidation. The other two clinics which fitted them were Shandon Street Hospital in Cork and Clane General Hospital, Co Kildare.

The implants were filled with industrial-grade silicone gel, and were susceptible to rupture.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.