Two days after the birth of a healthy, African American baby boy, the defendant, a pediatrician, visited the child’s parents and offered to perform an elective circumcision on the minor. While the mother was initially reluctant to agree to the procedure, she ultimately was persuaded by the defendant that circumcision was medically advisable. At no time during their discussion did the Defendant ever mention or note any pre-existing condition or anomaly that added any additional risk to the elective circumcision procedure. The Defendant assured the parents that he had successfully performed numerous circumcisions in the past without incident. In the end, the parents agreed, and the Defendant performed an elective neonatal circumcision on the minor using a Mogen clamp.
During the procedure, which was performed by the physician in a major hospital, the Defendant inadvertently amputated a portion of the minor’s glans penis. The Defendant attempted to repair the damage he caused by closing a portion of the glans with three 5-0 chromic sutures. As a result, the minor sustained a loss of tissue on his glans penis, measuring five by four millimeters. At no time did the Defendant request or otherwise recommend surgical repair by a pediatric surgeon, which, plaintiff’s expert was prepared to testify, would likely have improved the cosmetic result and reduced the degree of resulting hypospadias.
The defense contended, notwithstanding the unfortunate nature of the occurrence, that no long-term physical impairment or limitations were likely to be experienced by the plaintiff in later life. However, the plaintiff was prepared to offer evidence at trial that in the event the plaintiff became self-conscious of the injury during adolescence, lowered self-esteem and other psychological issues were likely to manifest. Plaintiff’s expert, a leading authority in the area of adolescent psychiatry, was prepared to testify that in addition to counseling which may benefit the minor plaintiff in later life, his parents, as the plaintiff’s primary caretakers and nurturers, would also greatly benefit from counseling, designed to educate them in addressing potential questions or concerns of their son in later life. Counseling was also expected to involve recommendations for resolving the questions of siblings, old-enough to appreciate the injury suffered by their younger brother.
The case was settled following lengthy negotiations conducted before and following a full day of mediation.
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