Circumcision error leads to Peyronie’s disease
Case’s ‘high/low’ agreement limits amount of damages awarded to plaintiff
A 59-year-old New York man underwent a circumcision in 2008. The procedure was intended to relieve an inflammation of the glans and was performed by a urologist.
The patient later claimed the procedure was performed improperly and resulted in Peyronie’s disease, with a 90-degree curvature during erection that caused sexual dysfunction and emotional distress for both him and his wife. Surgical correction had been recommended to the patient, but he chose not to have the operation.
The man and his wife sued the urologist and his group, and claimed the urologist failed to properly locate one of the two incisions for the circumcision and that they were not properly sutured. He argued the urologist unknowingly applied a 90-degree rotation of the skin and dorsal vein, which caused tethering to occur during erection.
The urologist contended the circumcision was properly performed and the patient’s curvature was due to a previously asymptomatic Peyronie’s condition, which was exacerbated after the circumcision procedure. The patient countered this, stating he had only minor plaque that could not have caused the large curvature. The jury returned a verdict for the patient and his wife and awarded $1,475,000.
LEGAL PERSPECTIVE: In this case, the parties had reached a high/low agreement prior to the jury’s verdict. In a high/low agreement, a limit is set on the amount of money the plaintiff will receive if the jury finds for the plaintiff, regardless of the amount they award in damages. A “low” amount is also agreed upon as compensation to the plaintiff, even if the verdict is for the defense. This guarantees the patient will get something, in return for limiting the amount to be paid if he wins the case. This type of arrangement is used to ensure a reasonable amount of monetary recovery for a plaintiff, instead of risking a “runaway” jury decision that awards a highly inflated amount in damages. In the case above, the high/low agreement was a $1 million/$125,000, so the recovery for the plaintiff was the agreed-upon $1 million.
Continue to next page for additional cases, including ones involving infection following prostate biopsy; complications following repair of penile pump malfunction; and overwhelming sepsis after diagnosis of renal stones.