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Jury rules against patient whose penis was amputated

Phillip Seaton, right, and his wife Deborah are shown Monday in the courtroom in Shelbyville, Ky.
Phillip Seaton, right, and his wife Deborah are shown Monday in the courtroom in Shelbyville, Ky. Dylan Lovan / AP
/ Source: news services

A jury on Wednesday ruled against a Kentucky truck driver who sued his urologist claiming the doctor amputated part of his penis without his consent.

The six-man, six-woman jury deliberated briefly before coming back with the verdict in the lawsuit filed by 64-year-old Phillip Seaton, and his wife, Deborah, in Shelby County Circuit Court.

The jury ruled unanimously against the claim that Dr. John Patterson of Frankfort had failed to exercise proper care. It ruled 10-2 against the claim that Seaton hadn't consented to the amputation.

Seaton did sign a pre-surgery consent form, although he allegedly cannot read or write, according to Louisville news station WLKY. The consent form said that Seaton would allow his doctor to perform additional surgery if an unknown condition was found during the procedure.

Seaton came to Patterson for surgery to relieve inflammation, but the surgery resulted in Patterson removing an inch off Seaton's penis, reported WLKY.

Jurors were told that Seaton had gone to Patterson seeking a circumcision in 2007, but the doctor decided to amputate part of the organ after he found potentially deadly cancer during surgery. 

Seaton, who had been seeking up to $16 million in damages for "loss of service, love and affection," declined to comment after the verdict.

The Seatons' attorney, Kevin George, said in closing arguments, "Phillip has changed. He was mutilated. His manhood was taken."

George said he planned to appeal the decision on the grounds that a doctor is allowed to change a consent for surgery only if there is a danger of imminent death.

"There was no emergency, no reason to do it," George said of the amputation.

Patterson said after the verdict, "I think we're feeling pretty good." He declined to say more about the highly publicized case, calling one reporter who tried to question him "a member of the tabloid press."

"We feel like justice was done," the doctor's attorney, Clay Robinson, said. He said that it is difficult for doctors to overcome the negative effects of being sued even if a jury rules in their favor.

During testimony, urologist David Benson testified that he would not have performed the amputation before talking to the patient, reported WLKY.

Another expert, David Paulson, a retired urologic surgeon, said that doctors have permission to give care in the patient's best interest.