Boy's botched circumcision leads to $4.6 million award
A judge today said he will approve a $4.6 million settlement of a lawsuit brought on behalf of a boy who was the victim of a botched circumcision at a Los Angeles clinic when he was a week old.
The accord to be signed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rex Heeseman brings an end to the case filed by the boy's mother, Melanie Hall, against Miltex Inc. and its parent company, Integra Life Sciences Holding Corp., in February 2007.
The boy and his family lived in Los Angeles at the time and and now reside in Austin, Texas. He, his mother and his brother were present in court today.
The family will receive $3.07 million of the settlement total after attorneys' fees and costs are deducted.
According to the lawsuit, Dr. Anthony Pickett performed the circumcision on the boy, now 8, at the Maternity Center of Vermont on Jan. 3, 2003. Pickett used a Miltex Mogen clamp that removed 85 percent of the top of the boy's penis, according to the suit.
"Because of the defective design of the circumcision clamp, there was no protection for the head of the penis and Dr. Pickett was unable to visualize the (head) when excising the foreskin," according to the plaintiffs' court papers filed regarding the settlement. "For this reason, an amputation to the (head) of plaintiff's penis occurred."
The boy will need yearly visits to a pediatric urologist and will continue to obtain psychiatric care "to deal with the trauma of this incident and resultant surgeries," the plaintiff's court papers state. "In addition, future surgery may be required as he grows older." Pickett was dismissed as a defendant last month and is not involved in the settlement.
Browne Greene, an attorney for the boy and his mother, said in a sworn statement that the case presented unique challenges. Medical malpractice statutes appeared to limit recovery in the case and it also involved an uninsured doctor, according to Greene.
"This case is one of the more extraordinary cases I have participated in during my nearly 50 years of practicing law," Greene said. "Through extraordinary research, diligent work-up, creative lawyering and hundreds of hours of hard work ... if we had not done such a remarkable job it is highly likely (the boy) would never have collected upon a judgment that might have been limited to $250,000."
Greene said the lawsuit also has societal benefits.
"In the process of this litigation, we also have exposed a danger to children which we hope to eradicate by the effects of this litigation and settlement," Greene said.
Hall stated in a declaration that she approved the settlement, including the $1.38 million that will go to her attorneys. She said they conducted a mock trial using her and her family to predict how the case would likely be like in front of a jury.
"I hope this case helps prevent this from happening to anyone else and that that warnings will be given people to let them know what could occur," said Hall, a single parent with one other son.