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Kentucky Penis Amputation: Dispute Between Man And Surgeon Over Necessity Of Procedure Set To Go To Trial

BRETT BARROUQUERE   08/17/11 06:11 PM ET   AP

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. — The dispute between a Kentucky man and a surgeon over the necessity of amputating the patient's penis during surgery in 2008 is set to go to trial this week.

The doctor maintains he found cancer in the man's penis during surgery and that it had to be removed, according to the physician's attorney. The patient claims the surgery was supposed to be a circumcision and he never authorized the amputation, nor was he given a chance to seek a second opinion.

Jury selection begins Thursday in the lawsuit brought by Phillip Seaton of Waddy and his wife, Deborah, against Dr. John Patterson of Louisville. Attorneys hope to start opening statements that afternoon.

The Seatons sued Patterson in Shelby County Circuit Court in 2008 after an operation that resulted in the amputation.

Seaton, now in his 60s, was having the procedure on Oct. 19, 2007, to better treat inflammation.

Neither Kevin George, the attorney for the Seatons, nor Clay Robinson, the attorney for Patterson, would comment on the case. George said Shelby Circuit Judge Charles Hickman asked the lawyers to refrain from making public statements. Robinson did not respond to phone and email messages left at his office in recent weeks.

The lawsuit alleges Patterson removed Seaton's penis without consulting either Phillip or Deborah Seaton.

George said during a pre-trial hearing on Aug. 2 that the case comes down to whether jurors believe the amputation "was a necessary part of the surgery.'

"This is really a fact-driven case," Shelby Circuit Judge Charles Hickman said during the pre-trial conference.

George has said that the doctor's post-surgical notes show Patterson thought he detected cancer and removed the penis. But, George added, the situation was not an emergency.

"It didn't have to happen that way," George said in 2008, shortly after the lawsuit was filed.

Robinson has previously said that Patterson, a Kentucky-based urologist, had permission to perform any medical procedure deemed necessary and that the doctor found cancer in the organ during the surgery. Robinson has said that Patterson "had no reasonable option" but to remove the cancer.

"Mr. Seaton's problem was not the surgery, it was the cancer," Robinson said in 2008.

The trial had initially been set for January, but Hickman delayed the proceedings because of pre-trial publicity.

"I'm optimistic we can seat this jury," Robinson said during the pre-trial hearing.

The Seatons are seeking unspecified damages from Patterson for "loss of service, love and affection."

The Seatons also sued Jewish Hospital, where the surgery took place. The hospital settled with the Seatons for an undisclosed amount.

The Seatons' suit is similar to one in which an Indianapolis man was awarded more than $2.3 million in damages after he claimed his penis and left testicle were removed without his consent during surgery for an infection in 1997.

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Filed by Adam Goldberg  |  Report Corrections