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Faulty breast implant case referred to European Court of Justice

The European Court of Justice is to determine legal questions relating to a compensation dispute over faulty breast implants. Germany's Supreme Court says it needs clarification on points of EU law before it can proceed.

A 65-year-old woman seeking compensation from German certification company TÜV Rheinland has had proceedings in her case stayed until points of law can be clarified by the European Court of Justice.

Germany's Federal Supreme Court, the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) in Karlsruhe, referred questions to the Luxembourg-based court to interpret issues relating to European law.

"The critical question is what monitoring and supervisory controls TÜV had," head judge Wolfgang Eick said.

Questions relate to legal issues surrounding duties owed by a product tester.

The unnamed German woman is seeking 40,000 euros ($42,800) compensation from TÜV Rheinland for faulty breast implants supplied by the now insolvent French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP).

The woman claims the implants were wrongfully certified as safe by the product-testing company.

In 2010 it was revealed that PIP used cheap, low-grade silicon that was not medically safe. More than 500,000 women were affected, with more than 5,000 of them in Germany.

"I just want some justice," the woman, who received PIP implants in 2008 following breast removal surgery, said Thursday in Karlsruhe.

The claimant's implants were removed in 2012 and replaced with a safer version.

The woman's damages claim was rejected at first instance, and again on appeal.

TÜV Rheinland said there are about 10 similar cases pending. The certification company denies liability in all cases.

PIP, the world's third-largest silicone producer, was forced to close in 2010 after it was discovered to be using substandard industrial-grade silicone gel in hundreds of thousands of breast implants, which later ruptured.

jlw/kms (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)

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