LAKE CHARLES AMERICAN PRESS, Wednesday, May 28, 1986.
[Lake Charles, Louisiana]


                      by Vincent Lupo
                American Press Staff Writer

     The family of a young boy, whose penis had to be
amputated after it was severly burned during a routine
circumcision perfromed at a state-run hospital, was awarded
$2.75 million by a jury in 14th Judicial District Court.

     Jurors made the award against the State of Louisiana
Department of Health and Human Resource (DHHR) and the LSU
Board of Supervisors.  The family of the boy asked that they
not be named.

     According to testimony during the week-long civil trial
before Juge L. E. Hawsey Jr., the boy who was 2 years old at
the time, was to undergo a routine circumcision at W. O.
Moss Regional Hospital on February 2, 1984.

     A third-year surgical resident undergoing training
through the LSU medical program surevised the operation in
which an electrosurgical instrument manufactured by Valley
Lab of Boulder, Colo., was used.  The device, commonly used
to stop bleeding during surgery, can cut tissue through heat
transmitted by an electric current.

     During the surgery which was actually performed by
another resident under the supervision of the surgical
resident, the boy's penis was severly burned.  Internal
damage to blood vessels apparently also occurred and kept
vital oxygen from reaching the tissue of the organ, which
had to be removed later after the child was transferred to a
New Orleans hospital.

     Doctors in New Orleans strongly suggested that the
parents allow tem to perform a sex change operation on the
toddler, but they refused.  The boy's urinary tract was
rerouted diring several subsequent surgeries both her and in
New Orleans, and he now urinates through a hole located
where his penis had been.

     His parents sued the state and Valley Lab.  Neither
doctor was named as a defendant.  The family claimed the
manufacturer of the surgical device failed to adequately
warn doctors of the harm which could be caused by the instrument.

     The trial was bifurcated which means a portion was
decided by Judge Hawsey and portion was decided by the
jurors.  Because juries are composed of citizens of the
state, jurors are not allowed to decide any suit or part of
a suit naming a state agency as defendant.

     Therefore Judge Hawsey determined the liability of the
state, while the jurors decided the liability of Valley Lab.

     While jurors deleberated on their verdict, Judge Hawsey
rendered his decision against the state.  He found both DHHR
and the LSU Board of Supervisors liable in the case.

     The judge awarded a total of $18,969 in special damages
to the boys parents for medical expenses and $100,000 in
general damages, ande $1.73 million to the victim.

     In his oral ruling, Judge Hawsey said he felt Valley
Labs was not negligent in providing warnings about the
surgical instrument.

     Jurors, however disagreed and determined Valley Lab was
30 percent responsible for the injuries to the child.

     The juries awarded the boy a total of $2.75 million.

     Local attorney David A. Fraser, who represented the
family, said the higher figure awarded by the jury is
considered the amount of the judgement.

     Since the state has a $500,000 limit stipulated by
state law regarding its insurance coverage, Valley Lab
apparently must assume the payment of the remainder.
However , Valley Lab can attempt to recover 70 percent of
that remainder since jurors found  that defendant only 30
percent liable, Fraser said.

     The attorney said he feels certain the defendants will
appeal the decisions to higer courts.

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