© Scott Utterback, The Courier-JournalPhillip Seaton leaves the courtroom after the jury ruled against him in determining that Doctor John Patterson did not act improperly when he partially amputated the plaintiff's penis.
Jurors rejected a truck driver's claim for $16 million in damages after part of his penis was amputated because they believed the doctor saved the man's life, the jury forewoman said in an interview Wednesday.

After only about an hour of deliberation Wednesday, the six-man, six-woman jury in Shelby County Circuit Court found that Dr. John Patterson acted appropriately and Phillip Seaton, 64, of Waddy, should get no money in the lawsuit.

"We felt bad for the circumstances. (Seaton) has our sympathy. But at the same time, he's alive today because this man did what he did, because this man performed the surgery," jury forewoman Lydia Tapp told The Courier-Journal in a phone interview.

The jury ruled unanimously against the claim that Patterson had failed to exercise proper care. It ruled 10-2 against the claim that Seaton hadn't consented to the amputation.

Jurors were told that Seaton had gone to Patterson seeking a circumcision in October 2007, but the Frankfort doctor decided to amputate part of the penis after he found potentially deadly cancer during surgery.

Seaton, who had been seeking damages for "loss of service, love and affection," declined to comment after the verdict.

Asked whether he wanted to say anything, Patterson told a reporter, "You are a member of the tabloid press," and he continued walking.

Clay Robinson, Patterson's attorney, said "we feel like justice was done."

Seaton's attorney, Kevin George, said he was disappointed and would appeal, adding that the verdict could open the door for doctors to perform all sorts of procedures that were not requested and not necessary, at least immediately.

"There will be larger ramifications if this case stands," he said outside the courthouse.

George said he planned to appeal on grounds that a doctor is allowed to change a consent for surgery only if there is a danger of imminent death.

"There was no emergency, no reason to do it," George said of the amputation.

Tapp, 23, said jurors tried to put themselves in both Patterson's and Seaton's shoes.

"One of the main factors for us was he was going to have to have part of his penis removed regardless," she said.

George had argued during the trial that Patterson should have woken Seaton up and given him options, including getting a second opinion - or at least consulted with his wife, Deborah.

"Everyone agrees that Phillip Seaton ... has the right to decide what is going to happen to his penis," George said in his closing argument.

But Tapp said jurors felt that waiting to perform the surgery could have been dangerous, causing infection when Patterson closed him up, possibly leading to additional swelling that would have prevented urination.

And Tapp said testimony showed Seaton had already had the aggressive cancer for up to two years and described his pain in urinating as a level 10.

"We thought it could have been at a dangerous point," she said.

As for notifying Seaton's wife, Tapp said jurors learned during the trial that the two had been separated for years and Deborah Seaton was unlikely to know what her husband's wishes would be.

In final testimony during the third day of the trial, a Kentucky urologist said if Patterson had taken the time to consult with Phillip and Deborah Seaton about his surprising discovery of lethal penile cancer, the cancer would have had more time to spread.

Robinson told jurors in his closing that it would not have been acceptable care for Patterson to close Seaton up and leave the surgery for another day, saying he would then have opened himself up for a lawsuit if anything would have gone wrong.

"It's easy in retrospect to say he could have done this or that in hindsight," Robinson said. But Patterson made the proper decision "then and there for the patient's best interest."

But a doctor who testified on behalf of the Seatons on Tuesday said the situation was not an emergency and removing a man's penis is the "most psychologically debilitating" procedure.

And while George acknowledged that Patterson saved Seaton's life, he told the jury that there were other urologists who could have done the procedure, or one similiar, at a different time, perhaps even someone who could have saved his penis.

""He never gave him a choice," George said of Patterson. "That's offensive."

Phillip Seaton testified on the first day of the during trial that he wanted to flee the hospital after learning the news.

He did not react to the verdict and his attorney said Seaton was "not a man who shows his feelings."

"Phillip has changed," George said during his closing. "He was mutilated. His manhood was taken."