In an exceptionally rare case for medical malpractice lawsuits in California, judges have upheld a $9.3 million jury award to a man who was severely injured by an unwanted penis surgery.
It is important to note that California has a $250,000 limit on payouts for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, one of the strictest in the entire country — but that didn’t stop the man from winning big.
The lawsuit was filed by a 41 year-old man from southern California who was divorced and sexually active. After a routine exam, doctors found a suspicious lump on his scrotum.
He went to Loma Linda University Medical Center for an exploratory surgery to remove the lump and determine if it was cancerous.
Instead, when the man was anesthetized, his surgeon discovered that the lump was actually over 8 cm long and had grown into his penis.
The surgeon knew that removing it could leave the man with permanent impotence, but because he suspected that it was cancerous, he decided to remove it without obtaining consent.
Later pathology tests determined that the lump was not cancer. And after the surgery, he developed an infection and had to undergo emergency surgery.
He recovered from the infection, but was left with chronic pain, problems urinating, and impotence. Despite two reconstructive surgeries, he is still permanently impotent.
He filed a lawsuit against the surgeon for “medical battery,” which is when a doctor gets consent to perform one treatment, but instead performs a substantially different treatment without consent.
In 2018, the case went to trial and a jury ended up awarding $9 million in damages — an eye-popping verdict for medical malpractice lawsuits California.
The defendants immediately appealed the case, arguing that the $9 million jury award was invalid because it clearly exceeded California’s $250,000 cap on medical malpractice cases.
But this September, a California appeals court rejected their argument and upheld the $9 million award, because the man did not consent to any surgery on his penis, and furthermore, it was not necessary due to an emergency complication.
The surgeon could have waited to get the man’s consent for a penis surgery, or let him wait for pathology test result and avoid penis surgery to remove a benign growth altogether.