Breast implant concerns spur legal action from South Americans

A woman shows the certificates of breast implants from French brand PIP, in Caracas Venezuela, on January 6, 2012.

Story highlights

  • An attorney argues the European Union should pay to replace implants
  • Women with the implants in Venezuela are suing distributors
  • "We want these companies that sold PIP to held responsible," their attorney says
  • One woman calls her fear that the implants will rupture a "nightmare"
More than 1,000 South American women who have breast implants made by a bankrupt French company are taking legal action to get money for replacement surgery, attorneys said Tuesday.
In Venezuela, a group of more than 1,500 women who have breast implants made by Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP) have filed a lawsuit against the company's distributors, attorney Gilberto Andrea said.
And a group of 500 Argentinian women with the implants are asking for the creation of a government fund in Europe to compensate victims, according to an attorney who represents the association's president.
The PIP implants were banned last year in Europe because they were made with harmful, industrial-grade silicone and prone to rupture.
The government of France has said it will pay to replace the faulty implants of about 30,000 French women. But there is no fund established for foreigners, Paris-based attorney Arie Alimi said.
Lawyer defends silicone implants
Lawyer defends silicone implants

    JUST WATCHED

    Lawyer defends silicone implants

MUST WATCH

Lawyer defends silicone implants 02:40
Germany, UK weigh in on implant concern
Germany, UK weigh in on implant concern

    JUST WATCHED

    New dangers found in implant recall?

MUST WATCH

New dangers found in implant recall? 02:05
Defective implant victims want answers
Defective implant victims want answers

    JUST WATCHED

    Defective implant victims want answers

MUST WATCH

Defective implant victims want answers 02:57
Germany, UK weigh in on implant concern
Germany, UK weigh in on implant concern

    JUST WATCHED

    Germany, UK weigh in on implant concern

MUST WATCH

Germany, UK weigh in on implant concern 03:35
Alimi said he would request a meeting with the European Commission and the French Health Ministry on behalf of the Argentinian women.
"The first goal is to have this fund created because of the responsibility and the liability of the European Union," he said, arguing that officials there should have done more to check and regulate the implants before they were sold.
"This is the only way for Argentinian women and for all the victims in the world to be indemnified,' he said.
Alimi said he would represent Argentinian attorney Virginia Luna, the head of the organization, in a suit over the implants in France.
Meanwhile, in Venezuela, women with the implants have filed a lawsuit against distributors of the implants.
"We want these companies that sold PIP to be held responsible," said Andrea, their attorney.
Andrea said he is also asking a court to conduct an economic study to determine how much profit was made from selling the implants and require companies that made money to award his clients double that amount in reparations.
Alimi said he had spoken with Andrea about the possibility of representing the Venezuelan women in France.
"What we're asking for is that the prosthesis be removed and that a new one be implanted at no cost. And of course, we want the freedom to choose a doctor to do the implants. Some private clinics have recently offered patients with PIP implants a free removal, but they still have to pay for the cost of the new implant," Luna told CNN earlier this month.
Luna said as many as 13,500 women have the implants in Argentina.
Some legislators there are asking the government to help pay for the replacement surgery, which costs an estimated $3,500.
About 300,000 women in 65 countries received breast implants from the company. The implants were banned in 2010, and the company went bankrupt later that year.
The implants are not approved for use in the United States.
Authorities in France and England have dismissed fears of cancer from the implants, but have said the devices are prone to rupture and could cause inflammation, scarring and fibrosis.
That's a constant concern for Silvia Rodriguez, who got the implants in Buenos Aires in 2009.
"It makes me nervous all the time. Sometimes I feel some pain, and I don't know if it's related to the implants or not. I try to calm down, but still feel I need to do something about it. I can't wait to go back to the operating room and hear the words 'it's been done' so that the nightmare is over," Rodriguez said.