The case of the amputated penis

As reported first in AL.com, a man in his late 50s (some sources say he’s 56, some say 59 during the time of the lawsuit) from Alabama, Birmingham claims that he woke up discovering his penis was ‘gone’ and was alledgedly chopped down about an inch after a supposedly simple routine circumcision procedure.

The lawsuit was filed July 22, 2014, on Tuesday in Jefferson Country Circuit Court naming Princeton Baptist Medical Center, Urology Centers of Alabama, Simon-Williamson Clinic and 2 doctors as the defendants.

It was uncertain how much was the lawsuit claiming for. This is truly one of the most unique medical negligence cases ever heard in the state.

The couple’s story

Johnny Lee Banks Jr. suffers from several health problems mainly diabetes. He is wheelchair bound with both legs amputated due to accumulation of dead tissue in his lower extremities because of a complication called diabetic wet gangrene. Sources say he is unemployed due to his current condition.

Zelda Banks, Johnny’s wife, wholeheartedly supported her husband’s claims and even shared how the situation also shatters her. The couple went on to sue Princeton Baptist Medical Center with Johnny saying the doctors and all other staff involved in his care never told him why they had to remove a part of his sexual organ nor was he warned that the circumcision might result in amputation.
[quote_center]”They never gave consent for the complete or partial amputation of (his) penis.”[/quote_center]

John P. Graves, Bank’s attorney, shared that his client was truly devastated. The lawyer also told the judge, “It’s a terrible, terrible tragedy what my client has gone through” and was determined to fight for his clients.

It was said that the victim, Johnny, had prolonged suffering and spent unnecessary additional time in the hospital during his recovery which also caused the Banks to pay more money. Zelda, his wife, claimed for loss of consortium or in simple terms, loss of companionship between her and the husband.

What the defendants say

The other party refused to comment initially with Kate DeWitt Darden, VP of marketing and communications of the parent company of the hospital, Baptist Health System saying they generally do not comment of pending litigation.

Finally after reviewing the case and allegations, the attorney of the two doctors involved in the case, Mike Florie have expressed that Bank’s claims is without merit, completely untrue and even had no basis. He said they intend to defend the physicians vigorously and declared that “the case is simply an unjust attempt to damage the reputation of dedicated physicians and an outstanding clinic…” Darden also added that they find the allegations non-meritorious, that they too will defend all counts aggressively and will not comment further while the case is on as usual. Other defendants still kept their mouth shut.

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Johnny Lee Banks Jr. with his family and Lawyer John Graves

Counter Motion

On July 29th, a week after the lawsuit was filed, the defendant’s legal attorney Mike Florie representing the two doctors, the Urology Centers of Alabama and the Simon-Williamson Clinic filed two motions:
1. Motion to dismiss the lawsuit
2. Motion to seek sanctions against John Graves, the attorney who filed the alleged lawsuit together with his law firm Eversole Law, LLC

Motion states, “Counsel for the plaintiff knew, or within the exercise of any reasonable and ethical care should have known, that the claims are false,”.

Jay Juliano, the attorney of the hospital, filed similar motions and included a motion to dismiss the hospital as well saying the case is entirely unsupported by facts and that there is no evidence that the amputation occurred at Princeton. They are also seeking for monetary sanction against the complainant’s attorney and also for attorney’s fees.

Juliano further states, “These actions by plaintiff’s counsel were calculated to and did in fact harm and damage Princeton Baptist’s reputation,”.

Florie went on saying the attorney of the victim even discussed his client’s health condition in the media saying Mr. Banks have multiple serious health problems including end-stage kidney failure, congestive heart disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and severe diabetes. Florie have stressed that several doctors and even specialists in the hospital worked very hard to keep Johnny alive and nobody has ever amputated his penis.

Details from affidavits:
1. According to the president of Simon-Williamson Clinic, the patient was last seen July 2, 2014 but did not have any issues regarding an amputation.
2. One of the doctors involved in the case accordingly last saw the patient November 2013 and did not perform the said circumcision.3. The other doctor from Urology Centers stated that he last saw Mr. Banks in March 2014. In February, 10, he performed a minor surgical procedure called dorsal slit on the patient’s swollen penis to allow urination through an inserted catheter. He further noted that a circumcision would be needed in the future but denied of ever performing the circumcision itself nor any amputation of the sex organ.

Lawsuit dismissed twice

Initial hearing

Judge Jim Hughey III of Jefferson County Circuit dismissed the lawsuit August 7 last year but gave the plaintiffs 30 days to file again. The judge was sympathetic of the ‘strong feelings’ both sides felt but says “It is just what the law requires” as pertaining to the Alabama Medical Liability Act.

The case lack specific dates of when the incidents alledgedly happened and Mr. Bank’s lawyers said to have filed the case without reviewing the medical records first. As stressed by the defendants’ lawyers, cases of medical malpractice nature should be of high standard having all the specific evidence to support the claim.

Graves defended himself saying that he needed to file as soon as possible knowing his client is dying and that he needed to preserve the claims. He also added that the actual physical evidence will prove all claims saying “the proof is in the pudding.”

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Plaintiff’s lawyer, John P. Graves of Eversole Law, LLC

The defense attorneys handed over 3,000 pages of medical records to the claimant’s lawyer which is said to show that there is no basis for the claims made. [quote_right]”Looks like I’ve got to get back to the drawing board and refile my complaint,” Graves said. [/quote_right]

The judge also dismissed the request for sanction against Banks’ lawyer but also gave the defense lawyers another chance to file if the case is to be heard again.

As AL.com described, the claimant, Mr. Banks, sat in a wheelchair beside his lawyer during the hearing; when the defense lawyers mentioned that there is no evidence that his penis was amputated in the hospital, the claimant was upset and started talking.

The attorney for the hospital cited that the ruling was significant since it is rare for a suit to be dismissed in such early stage.

The second time around

On a Wednesday afternoon, Judge Hughey dismissed the lawsuit the again however, left the possibility of the case to be file for the third time. This time, the Banks couple and their lawyer Graves is not given a deadline but the judge reminded them that the lawsuit should be re-filed within two years from the alleged date of the act as according to the state law. The request of the other party for sanctions against the attorney who filed the case was also denied.

The complaint was filed by the patient the second time around on September 8 and the healthcare team involved in the case also filed counter motions for dismissal and sanctions.

The earlier claim lacked specific details but this time, it now states that the alleged amputation occurred February 14 of the same year rather than some time in June as previously stated.

Despite the primary change of details in the case, it still lacked identification of particular state of case which might have been breached before or during the procedure as according to Judge Hughey. He added, “The plaintiffs (patient and his wife) also did not plead for any specific medical acts or omissions that occurred or failed to occur during the procedure.” They have relied on the conclusion that the hospital, clinics, and doctors breached one or more standards of care because of the result of the procedure which is allegedly amputation.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer Graves, have one word response to the ruling which is, “disappointment.”

Conclusion

Whether or not the alledged chopping off of the sexual organ did occur, this case just displays how the law takes medical malpractice cases seriously. Nobody can just simply come forward and claim for any disease or procedures gone wrong without any basis. Just like any other accusations, as a person who would like to file a claim, one should be ready to explain when, why, and how it all happened no matter what the circumstances are. This goes to show that people who are coming forward for a medical error claim and actually wins the case is not just in for the money but has all the necessary grounds to fight for the injustice they have experienced. Whichever side of the fence we are, we should take the initiative to look into the details before judging anyone.

As for Mr. Banks, his wife and their faithful lawyer Graves, nothing was heard of them after the second lawsuit. Perhaps they have realized that the case is just a case of misunderstanding? Maybe its better for the patient and his wife to focus more on appreciating life and the healthcare support given to Johnny considering all the conditions he is currently suffering.

Sometimes, we just really have to have more faith and trust to our healthcare provider but at the same time, be vigilant and be strong enough to fight for our rights as patients if ever there really is something wrong going on.

What is your own take regarding the case?

P.S If you have any more unique medical negligence cases such as this, please feel free to share it with us. Thanks!

 

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