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April update on PIP litigation

Good afternoon,

I write with an update on compensation for the PIP implant claims. If you are new to our list of potential claimants I welcome you and hope that this update will assist you with information on how these claims are proceeding through the Court.

Group Litigation Order (GLO)

An application for the PIP victims to have their cases heard as a Group was considered by the Court in Cardiff in March 2012. The outcome of that hearing was that the parties to the application (solicitors for the victims and solicitors for the potential defendants who are the surgeons, clinics, distributors) were told by the Court that an Order would not be made at present as there was further work to be done.  The Court directed the solicitors to go and prepare a schedule of names of the victims (referred to as Claimants) and a schedule of Defendants in addition to other work.  It will be several weeks before the schedules are ready for submission and once that is done it is hoped the Court will make the Group Litigation Order.  At present there is no Order although I understand that there has been some misinformation on the internet about this.

Check to see if you able to be included in the list

You may be wondering whether you are able to qualify as a Claimant.  The criterion has yet to be agreed but the victims that we believe to be included are:

  1. Any person who has had PIP implants
  2. Any person who believes they have had PIP implants but have not yet had this confirmed

As yet there is no requirement to have a confirmed rupture to be included in this litigation.

Information required to be added to the list

I have kept your details for the purpose of updates but I need to know now how many of you wish to include your name in a formal schedule to the Court.  Please be very careful regarding who you have contacted for legal advice because it may compromise your claim if you have instructed more than one firm of Solicitors or legal advisors to assist you.

I will wait three weeks after sending this update for replies to be received therefore by 3 May 2012.  I will then prepare a schedule of names. If you have not decided to present a claim then you ought to include your name as a precaution and if you are late getting back to me there will be a further opportunity to add your name but I do not know when the cut off date will be.  So there is no problem for you if you add your name now and later change your mind.  In fact it would be sensible to add your name now to protect your position on the register and you can removed your name later if you wish.

Evidence

Preliminary evidence that we would hope to present for you will include the following:

  • Your medical records
  • The implants if these have been removed
  • All documents relating to the purchase of the original surgery
  • All documents relating to any further treatment required
  • Photographs of the damage to your breasts
  • All documents relating to additional expenses as a result of this defective implants

If you are missing some of the above that does not prevent you from claiming but try to gather as much evidence as possible to further substantiate your claim.

If you have not yet had the implants removed but are considering this please let me know as I have a letter to send to the clinic regarding the removed implants

Removal and replacement surgery

Some surgeons are asking clients to sign waivers before they remove and replace the implants.  If you are asked to do so our strong advice is not to sign this as it may compromise your ability to claim. If the only way the clinic will do the surgery is if you sign then insert the words “under protest” after your name to identify that you are signing under duress.  The words “under protest” may not fully protect you so you may wish to express your objection in a letter.

Please note that we are not medically qualified and therefore you must always seek medical advice from your GP and / or breast surgeon before arranging replacement surgery. We are unable to advise you whether or not it is in your best interest to have your implants removed.

Timeline

When you confirm you wish to proceed I will write to you with details of how to send your instructions. We will be acting for most victims on a “no win no fee” Conditional Fee Agreement.

Once I have your instructions to proceed, we can then send our letter of claim to the Defendant (s) which will be the distributor, clinic, and surgeon.  This will set out a summary of the claim.

The Defendant is allowed 21 days to reply and once they have done so will be entitled to a period of 12 weeks, which is referred to as the protocol period,  to investigate and provide their decision on the GLO and whether they are going to admit responsibility or not.

During this time I will do my best to update you on average once a month or sooner if there is a significant development. I will do my best to keep the communications personal to your issues however there are likely to be many instances when an update will apply to everyone so the communication you receive from me or my colleagues will be for general distribution.

To illustrate the proposed timeline to the decision on liability from receipt of your instructions:

Confirmation of instructions

4 weeks to

3 weeks

12 weeks

We estimate that the Court will make the Group Litigation Order sometime in July/August
Confirm no win no fee  and send letter of claim For the Defendant to reply to letter of claim For the Defendant  to admit  or deny liability

Updates in general

Many women are succeeding in recovering the cost of the first surgery to have the implants from the credit card providers.  This is allowing them funds for the removal and replacement surgery. Therefore if you paid for the surgery by credit card please let me know so that I can approach the credit card company for the money.

Women in Wales may have the removal and replacement on the NHS for free.

We are advising women in England to continue to press their GP’s for assistance on the basis of “clinical need” which appears to be how the GP will assess whether to provide the full treatment of removal and replacement.  You may also wish to contact your MP to complain about the lack of funding on the NHS for this treatment which many consider to be scandalous when it is available in Wales.

There has arisen a new market place for clinics who are offering the treatment at discounted rates so if you have the funds to arrange replacement and removal privately we advise that you shop around as there is no requirement to date to force you to return to the surgeon or surgery where the faulty implants were first used.

If you do not have funds for the treatment and your GP will not assist then continue communicating with the private clinic and/or surgeon who carried out the initial implant surgery.  They will resist your requests for assistance and most likely be very uncooperative but the more they are contacted the more likely you are to receive assistance.  The idea is to persevere with your efforts and keep records of all phone calls (the date, time and name of person you spoke to) and copies of all letters or emails. These may be crucial for evidence at a later date. If you have not saved paperwork previously then do so from now on make this a priority!

A final solution for those of you without the funds available and an inability to agree to perhaps extended payment terms with the clinic is to make enquiries with other reputable loan or credit providers.

In Summary

1.    The difficulty is that at present there has been a huge influx of claims following the media attention at the end of last year to the number of potential victims.

2.    I am not medically trained so can only give you my views as a lawyer and therefore any advice on medical treatment must come from your GP or consultant.

It will help me to prepare your case if you are able to reply with the following:

  • Confirmation that you are instructing Harris Fowler to represent you;
  • The serial number of the PIP implants if you have this;
  • The cost of the original surgery if available;
  • The date when you first had the implants; and
  • If you have had symptoms, please let me know when you first noticed the symptoms

Thank you again for making contact and I will update you as soon as I have more to report. I look forward to hearing from everyone in the meantime with confirmation that you would like me to add your name to our schedule.