WARNING: This story contains mature content that may not be suitable for all readers.
The jury has reached a verdict in a Clayton County botched circumcision case.
The seven women, five men jury has awarded Baby D. and his mother $30 million for her son’s pain and suffering. The end of Baby D.’s privates were cut off after a circumcision went horrible wrong in 2013 in Clayton county. The jury also awarded an additional $380,000 for the mother and $400,00 for Baby D. when he turns 18.
The jury of seven women, five men deliberated barely 5 hours over two days before coming back with the first part that’s the compensatory part of their verdict.
Time, pain, and compensation.
Those were the themes of attorney Neal Pope's closing arguments at the trial over a botched circumcision in Clayton County.
Botched #circumcision plaintiff’s atty Neal Pope: Nurse, doctor, & clinic “weren’t prepared for what’d happen & all kinds of panic occurred that would never happen in a sane institution...She left that clinic w/ a bleeding baby in her arms, without a piece of that baby” @wsbradio pic.twitter.com/dVwW0zd2L9— Veronica Waters (@MissVWaters) September 20, 2018
Pope said time is "the stuff life's made of," something that's crucial for people in wrongful death or injury cases, and reminded the jury of the instant that it took to change a little boy's life forever. His first 18 days, said Pope, were Baby D.'s only normal ones of his life.
It was in 2013 when the 18-day-old D. was taken into Life Cycle OB/GYN in Riverdale by his mother. The hospital where she delivered him did not perform circumcisions, so despite her misgivings about having it done outside a hospital, she was reassured that the nurse midwife on duty was experienced and skilled in the procedure. Later, her baby boy's scream sent her flying into the room where the nurse midwife, Melissa Jones, testified that it took 10 minutes of direct pressure, a number of silver nitrate sticks and a pile of gauze to stop the bleeding.
"Time. How long does it take to make somebody go from normal to horribly injured? Flick of a knife--bam!" Pope said, snapping his fingers.
"With that flick of the knife, he was no longer normal and would never, ever, ever be normal again."
D.'s glans--the tip of his penis--had been severed. And Pope pointed out that because no one told the mother that, or the fact that they had the cut-off tissue still there, she had no way of seeking out the treatment that likely would have reattached it with a narrow window of hours. That's the importance of time, he said.
"She left that place with a bleeding baby in her arms, without a piece of that baby," said Pope.
Showing defendants a slide featuring pro athletes' salaries in the tens of millions, Pope told the panel that they could compensate the child and his family for what they've endured, and have yet to endure. He said over the years, he's struggled to find a way to communicate to jurors just what pain is. Finally, he says, he found an answer.
"Pain is a window into hell!" he said. "That's what pain is."
Pope told the jurors that estimates say D. will live another 69 years on average. He said D. will deal with physical and mental pain, dealing with a deformed penis that he has to repeatedly pick scabs off of to use the bathroom efficiently, and the pain to his psyche of worrying that he will be seen as less-than because of the lifelong injury. What would that do to a young man looking for love?, he wondered. It will take a special "other," continued Pope, to look past that.
"What we do here is going to have a direct bearing on what kind of life he has, and what kind of man he becomes," he said.
So he suggested to jurors what they could do for D., his mother, and even his future wife.
Clayton Co. botched #circumcision suit closings: plaintiff’s attorney talks about compensation, saying it’s important for for D., his mom, even his future wife. Neal Pope shows verdict form and tells jurors, “I think this is a $100 million case.” @wsbradio pic.twitter.com/tz7fc406gB— Veronica Waters (@MissVWaters) September 20, 2018
"I think the case is a $100 million case," Pope declared.
The argument capped off four hours of closings after a week-long trial that featured doctors battling over how grim D.'s future would be.
The plaintiff's experts emphasized the failures made by the heath care providers after the devastating injury, and a child psychiatrist said D. should be provided with 20 non-consecutive years of counseling to help navigate his world when situations arise.
The defense emphasized that D. did suffer a serious injury, but also that his organ is in good working order now, that few or no future surgeries are likely, and that he would likely have sexual function later in life.
Three defense attorneys, representing three separate sets of defendants, also addressed the jury.
Terrell "Chip" Benton, defending the nurse midwife and Dr. Brian Register, the OB/GYN who was supervising that day, told jurors he knew they would levy sanctions against his clients. But he appealed to them to be fair not only D., but to the defendants as well.
"Resist the temptation of some number in the multi-millions of dollars that's not fair to these health care providers. Resist that temptation," he implored.
Benton said one million dollars would be fair to cover D.'s medical bills, therapy, and pain and suffering. He emphasized to jurors that Jones and Register did not mean to harm their patients, and did not turn their backs on the boy, Benton said, when he was injured.
While Jones and Register are already liable in the case thanks to a judge's ruling that they intentionally discarded evidence over the summer, two defendants hope to convince the jury that they are blameless.
Anne Sigouin, the owner of Life Cycle OB/GYN and Pediatrics, got a call the day of the medical mishap from the clinic, and advised them to call the boy's pediatrician, Dr. Abigail Kamishlian of Daffodil Pediatrics. Both contended during the course of the trial that they were not told anything of consequence over the phone that would have alerted them that the routine circumcision had morphed into an emergency situation.
Sigouin's lawyer, Page Powell, told jurors this case was unique.
"I don't think I've ever had a case where there were two different defendants whose sole involvement was a phone call," said Powell. He contended that Sigouin was not informed that the boy's glans had been lacerated or that the tissue was still there--either that day or months later, after being kept in the refrigerator of her Riverdale clinic.
"Anne was not told," he said.
Kamishlian's lawyer insisted that although the doctor wrote down a note that said the boy's glans tissue had been severed, she didn't believe that to be an emergency, either. Her contention is that the nurse midwife said the tissue was so small, she believed that "severed" in this case really meant a "nick" that would later heal itself.
Plaintiff's attorney M. J. Blakely said the women's stories are too far-fetched to believe.
"Do you think Melissa Jones would call Dr. Kamishlian, somebody that she doesn't even know, and tell her that the glans had been severed, but not tell her own boss, somebody that she's been working with for years?" Blakely asked. "Because I don't."
Blakely asked jurors to search for the truth, and to fight for the little boy, who turns 5 next month, the way his mother and his lawyers have fought for him.
"Ladies and gentlemen, you can fight for D. with your verdict, to help ensure that he has a chance of enduring this life with some dignity intact," said Blakely.
The seven-woman, five-man jury began deliberating about 4:30 Thursday afternoon, and resumed Friday morning.