German implant tester faces retrial

PARIS — France’s highest court on Wednesday overturned an appeals court ruling that would have required some 1,700 women in multiple countries to pay back compensation they received over rupture-prone breast implants.

The decision by the Court of Cassation means the years-long case involving German products-testing company TUV Rheinland must be retried. The company initially was ordered to pay damages of about $6.5 million to the women.

TUV Rheinland said in a statement that the company was not at fault and had “performed its mission … diligently and in total compliance with the applicable regulations.”

While 1,700 women are directly affected by the decision, the French high court’s ruling could have fallout for thousands more seeking damages from TUV Rheinland in other lawsuits.

The legal drama involves tens of thousands of women from Europe and South America who received the faulty implants, which were made with industrial-grade silicone instead of medical silicone. The manufacturer of the implants, French company Poly Implant Prothese, or PIP, was convicted of fraud. But the bankrupt manufacturer couldn’t pay damages to the women with often painful, leaky implants. They sought compensation from TUV Rheinland instead, arguing it should have never certified the product in the first place.

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