MARSEILLE, FRANCE – A disgraced French businessman was convicted of fraud and sentenced to four years in prison on Tuesday for filling tens of thousands of breast implants with industrial grade silicone. But he left the courthouse freely after lodging an appeal, and thousands of women will have to wait to discover if they will receive damages.
The ruling in the criminal case by a court in Marseille, which had all the trappings of a class-action lawsuit, ordered up to €40 million ($55 million) in damages paid to a fraction of the 125,000 women worldwide who received the implants.
However, that sum for Jean-Claude Mas’ company, Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), was largely theoretical because it is bankrupt, and because the appeal froze any efforts to find alternate sources. It will be months, if not years, before any women see money many say they need to remove the faulty, leak-prone implants.
In addition to his prison sentence, the French businessman was fined €75,000. His lawyer promised to appeal immediately. Four managers in the now-defunct PIP received lesser sentences.
The decision established a complex system of damages for about two-thirds of the 7,100 women who joined the case, with a potential total of €40 million to be paid by those convicted. But, like Mas’ fine, it was not clear where that money would come from.
The PIP implants were filled with industrial grade silicone — instead of medical grade — and were prone to leak. Some 125,000 women underwent plastic surgery with PIP implants.