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French court rules TÜV liable in PIP breast implants trial

A French court has found the German certification organization TÜV Rheinland liable in a civil trial over faulty breast implants. Plaintiffs sought millions from the French firm PIP and TÜV Rheinland.

Alleging negligence, about 1,600 women affected by the faulty breast implants as well as half a dozen health care distributors who sold them had sought damages totaling more than 50 million euros ($67 million) during the trial, held in the city of Toulon, in the south of France. TÜV Rheinland had defended itself by alleging that Poly Implant Prothese had deceived its inspectors. However, the court ruled Thursday that TÜV Rheinland would have to pay as well.

"Surgeons who used the incriminating implants were as much the objects of fraud as were the patients," Mario Ceravolo, deputy head of the association representing Italian doctors who specialize in aesthetics, said in a statement last year.

"We were tricked by a product that carried the CE label and which, at first sight, had all the physical characteristics for this type of operation," Ceravolo said, referring to the standardized European certification.

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. The lawsuit also targeted TÜV Rheinland, alleging that the certifier had failed to ensure PIP's breast implants conformed to European safety standards.

mkg/dr (AFP, dpa)