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Kentucky jury rules for doctor in penis amputation suit

By Ivonne Rovira

LOUISVILLE, Ky (Reuters) - A Kentucky doctor acted properly when he amputated part of a truck driver's penis after finding cancer during what was expected to have been a routine circumcision surgery in 2007, a jury found on Wednesday.

Phillip Seaton, 64, had sought $16 million in damages against Dr. John Patterson for performing the partial amputation after he discovered a cancerous tumor on Seaton's penis during the surgery, which had been expected to uncover a fungal infection.

Jurors in Shelby County Circuit Court about 30 miles east of Louisville quickly reached a verdict in favor of Patterson, a Frankfort, Kentucky, doctor.

The jury of six men and six women ruled unanimously against a claim that Patterson failed to exercise proper care. They also ruled 10-2 against a claim that Seaton hadn't consented to the amputation.

Seaton, from Mount Eden, Kentucky, declined to comment after the verdict. His lawyer, Kevin George, said he planned to appeal.

A surgeon cannot change the agreed upon procedure "unless the patient's health is in immediate danger, unless he's in danger of dying immediately on the table," George said.

A key question in the case was whether Patterson should have awakened Seaton and asked for permission to make the amputation. Doctors testifying as medical experts on both sides disagreed on whether an immediate amputation was necessary.

Seaton and his wife, Deborah, had earlier settled with Jewish Hospital Shelbyville and with an anesthesiologist. Terms of those settlements were not disclosed.

(Additional reporting by Steve Robrahn; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

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