HOUSTON (AP) _ An appeals court has reversed a $29 million judgment against three breast implant manufacturers, granting the request of parties on both sides of the case.

The action by a Texas appeals court on Thursday clears the way for a smaller but quicker settlement for three Houston-area women and erases the 1994 verdict against McGhan Medical Corp., Inamed Corp. and 3M Corp.

Terms of the new settlement weren't disclosed.

However, plaintiffs' attorney Rick Laminack said it would enable his clients, who alleged their implants caused autoimmune illnesses, to recover damages more quickly than waiting through years of appeals. He also predicted it would pave the way for hundreds of local cases against McGhan to be resolved without a trial.

Last March, a Harris County jury found McGhan and its parent company, Inamed, guilty of gross negligence in the design of silicone breast implants and 3M guilty of civil conspiracy in their manufacture and sale.

Defense attorneys had argued there was no scientifically proven link between silicone implants and the kinds of illnesses alleged by the plaintiffs _ Darla Lawson, Susan Doss and Judy McMurry.

The verdict was expected to broaden the liability of defendant manufacturers because it was the first case involving implants that didn't rupture. The defendants admitted ``gel bleeding'' occurs with implants, but said the leakage was too small to be detected.

About 2 million women nationwide have received breast implants, most for cosmetic reasons. In 1994, a federal judge approved a $4.2 billion worldwide settlement of most breast implant cases.

Last month, in a ruling separate from that settlement, a jury awarded a Texas woman and her husband $5.2 million for leaking breast implants.