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A French appeals court ruled Thursday that a German product-testing company does not have to compensate more than 3,000 women with leak-prone breast implants — and now women who sued may have to pay back 5.8 million euros ($6.4 million) in collective damages they received in a lower-court ruling.
 
Tens of thousands of women worldwide received implants made by French company PIP, or Poly Implant Prothese. The implants were found to contain industrial-grade silicone instead of medical silicone and were prone to leakage.

PIP's owner was sentenced to prison for fraud, but his bankrupt company couldn't pay damages. So the women's lawyers sought compensation from German testing company TUV Rheinland and its French subsidiary instead.

A commercial court ordered TUV in 2013 to pay damages to women and six distributors, ruling that the testing company failed to properly check the implants.

But the appeals court in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence overturned that Thursday. A court statement said that TUV and its subsidiary "respected their obligations incumbent upon them as certifying organizations."

The ruling says TUV couldn't have been aware of the problems with the implants, because of PIP's efforts to hide them.

Lawyer Jacky Petitot, representing women in the case, called it an "enormous disappointment." He said women from France, Britain and South Africa were among those affected.


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