Esteban Parra and Sean O'Sullivan, The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal
It took jurors less than two hours to decide no medical negligence was committed in a penile implant procedure that a lawsuit claimed left a Newark truck driver with an eight-month erection.
"We're stunned," Attorney Michael C. Heyden said as he and his clients left the New Castle County Courthouse. His client, Daniel Metzgar, who gave attention-grabbing statements during his testimony, had no comment.
Metzgar opted for the prosthesis after other measures failed to treat his erectile dysfunction, which he said is a result of being a longtime diabetic. He had a three-piece inflatable penile implant, consisting of inflatable cylinders inside the shaft of the penis, a fluid reservoir under the abdominal wall and a pump inside his scrotum.
Metzgar ended up getting the prosthesis removed in August 2010, after tubing from the device punctured his scrotum during a family trip to Niagara Falls.
During the week-long trial, jurors and anyone in the courtroom heard testimony of how Metzgar's erection got in the his way of life, drawing taunts from family and friends as well as stares, slurs and threats from strangers. Jurors also saw medical images of penile implants and photos of Metzgar's genitals, with tubes poking out his scrotum.
When asked if he had photographs prior to this, Metzgar replied: "We don't regularly photograph my penis." Then when the attorney told him he had taken a picture that time, he shot back: "Well I did when I had parts hanging out."
Heyden had suggested to the jury that Dr. Thomas J. Desperito and his former partners didn't review hospital charts informing them that Daniel Metzgar's penis was swollen and erect immediately following the December 2009 implant. He said Desperito didn't see Metzgar for almost two months following the surgery, which led to more complications.
But Desperito's attorney, Colleen D. Shields, said the hospital charts were prepared by people unfamiliar with penile implants. She said Desperito and his former partners were familiar with the prosthesis installation and were certain Metzgar's member was not erect following the procedure.
Two doctors from the practice saw Metzgar following the surgery, and Metzgar was seen at Desperito's practice by a physician assistant.
Shields suggested Metzgar should have known something was wrong after he had the surgery, when, he said, his scrotum swelled to the size of a volleyball. Instead, he didn't report anything amiss until April. Then when Desperito told him the implant may need to come out, Metzgar didn't do anything until August when the tubing broke through his flesh.
Metzgar accused Desperito of insisting on $10,000 before he would do anything.
The jury of six men and six women deliberated for about 45 minutes on Friday and just under an hour Monday morning when they sent out a note asking to see a model of the penile implant. But as Superior Court Judge M. Jane Brady was attempting to gather attorneys to prepare to answer the question, the jury forewoman informed the bailiff that they had reached a verdict.
In court, the clerk asked the forewoman one question: "Did the jury find that the defendant was negligent?"
"No," she answered and with that the case was over and the parties were dismissed.
Metzgar showed no apparent emotion and quickly left the courtroom with his wife, Donna, and their attorney after Brady left the bench.
Desperito hugged his attorney following the verdict.
Shields, who stood next to her client and co-counsel, Christopher C. Popper, said they were pleased for Desperito. "We think the jury reached the right result in this case," she said. "We're pleased. The system worked."
Desperito declined comment.
Jurors in the case also declined comment, one juror saying they had all agreed not to speak about the case to the media.