From the May 19, 2003 Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
Verdicts & Settlements

Tip Of Penis Amputated During Circumcision
Doctor Admits Mistake; Defense Later Questions Design Of Clamp Used

$725,000 Settlement

In June 1997, a baby boy was born to the plaintiffs. According to all involved, the mother and minor plaintiff were healthy and in satisfactory condition following the birth. The morning after the birth, the minor plaintiff was taken from the mother to be circumcised. The father did not accompany the minor plaintiff. Approximately one hour later, the defendant doctor entered the plaintiff parents' room and notified them that a small section at the tip of the infant's glans penis had been inadvertently excised.

The defendant doctor further informed them that a surgeon was on the way to perform microsurgery to reattach the amputated section. The defendant doctor reportedly concluded by stating: "I wish I could blame the clamp, but I can't. It was my fault."

The operative note stemming from the reattachment stated that only a tiny section of glans penis had been amputated during the circumcision, that no damage had been done to the child's urethra, and that full recovery was expected.

Over the next two years, the minor plaintiff had a remarkable healing result. Follow-up appointments with different doctors, one of whom was a noted specialist from Children's Hospital in Boston, confirmed that the minor plaintiff would not likely suffer any permanent injury as a result of the circumcision mishap. There were, however, slight cosmetic deficits at the tip of the minor plaintiff's penis, which were termed "skin tags." These skin tags were removed by laser surgery and did not reappear.

The plaintiff's expert agreed that there was only a slight cosmetic deficit and that the urethra remained intact. He also agreed that the child would not suffer any decreased sensation due to the original insult. He added that he could not say for certain that the plaintiff would grow to have full sensation at the tip of his penis.

As discovery progressed, the defense began to question the suitability of the Mogen clamp used in the process. Despite the defendant doctor's admission that the incident was his fault, the defense persisted with claims that the Mogen clamp had a design defect, which could allow for a portion of the glans penis to become trapped during the clamping process and inadvertently excised.

The plaintiffs did extensive research into the different implements used for circumcision, and opined that the doctor failed to make certain that only foreskin remained exposed after the clamp had been applied. Ultimately, the case was settled with a structured settlement, which will yield the child in excess of $750,000.

Type of action: Medical Malpractice
Injuries alleged: Section of glans penis amputated
Name of case: Withheld
Court/case #: Withheld
Tried before judge or jury: N/A (settled)
Special damages: $3,950
Amount of settlement: $725,000
Date: January 2003
Attorney: Darin M. Colucci, Colucci, Colucci & Marcus, Milton

(File prepared 27 May 2003)