Ten years after a scandal involving defective breast implants from France, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled against a German woman who was seeking compensation.
Thursday’s ruling could have a significant impact on other women who paid for implants from French manufacturer Poly Implant Prothese SA (PIP).
The case centres around a patient from Germany who demanded payment from the liability insurance of the French manufacturer. The insurance company declined because its contract stated that the cover only applied to France.
The Frankfurt Higher Regional Court had asked the ECJ to clarify whether the insurer’s approach was compatible with parts of EU law that prohibit discrimination on the basis of nationality.
The ECJ ruled on Thursday that “the general prohibition of discrimination on grounds of nationality is not applicable to a clause, stipulated in a contract between an insurance company and a manufacturer of medical devices, limiting the geographical extent of the insurance coverage”.
In 2010, it was revealed that PIP had used cheap, not approved, industrial silicone for breast implants for years instead of expensive medical silicone.
Worldwide, 400,000 women are said to have had the implants put in, for reconstructive surgery after having cancer or for breast enlargement.
The ECJ ruling means that the case goes back to the Frankfurt court for further consideration.