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Atlanta Journal-Constitution

$2.3M awarded in suit over botched circumcision

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Altanta Georgia, USA, by TY TAGAMI, Monday, March 30, 2009

A Fulton County jury has awarded $1.8 million in damages to a boy whose penis was severed in a botched circumcision.

The state court jury gave another $500,000 to the boy's mother in the decision rendered Friday.

The case involves a child, identified only as D.P. Jr., who was born at South Fulton Medical Center in 2004. In a suit filed two years later, his mother contended that the doctor who circumcised him removed too much tissue and that his pediatrician failed to respond when a nurse complained of excessive bleeding.

The tip of the penis was placed in a biohazard bag and might have been reattached if a urologist had attended to the boy within eight hours, one of the mother's lawyers, David J. Llewellyn of Atlanta, said.

The jury found that both the pediatrician, Dr. Cheryl Kendall, and the physician who performed the circumcision, Dr. Haiba Sonyika, were negligent. South Fulton Medical Center was absolved of liability.

The pediatrician's lawyer, Roger Harris, said he disagreed that the jury's decision indicated that Dr. Kendall was negligent because she didn't go to the hospital. He hinted at an appeal. "We believe there was error committed during the course of the trial," he said.

Dr. Sonyika's lawyer could not be reached for comment.

Llewellyn said the money awarded by the jury is to cover the cost of medical treatments and psychiatric counseling for the boy and his family. The jury did not award punitive damages. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is not naming the mother to avoid identifying the child.

"This case does point out one of the dangers of circumcision that every parent must seriously consider when having the procedure done," Llewellyn said. He contended that parents are not told of the risks of the procedure.