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Jury awards $1.5M for devastating injury from missed bacteria

A U.S. District Court jury in Baltimore has awarded $1.5 million to a 38-year-old man whose genitals were mutilated by a flesh-eating bacteria that went untreated for 58.5 hours due to a misdiagnosis in a Harford County hospital.

Wednesday’s award to Glenn Marc Garczynski will be reduced to about $780,000 due to Maryland’s statutory cap on non-economic damages — an outcome his lawyer called arbitrary and unjust.

“I don’t think a man can think of a more devastating injury,” said the attorney, Stuart M. Salsbury. “He will never be able to lead a normal life with regard to his intimate life. I don’t think that’s fair.”

The cap imposes “an automatic reduction that does not give any credence to the magnitude of the injury,” said Salsbury, of Salsbury, Clements, Bekman, Marder & Adkins LLC in Baltimore.

Garczynski arrived at Express Care of Bel Air on May 8, 2008, due to a red, painful cyst near his backside that had expanded to his testicles and swelled.

He was referred to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air, where a CT scan was taken of his pelvis. The medical report on the CT noted air in Garczynski’s right scrotal sac and perineum.

He was admitted to the hospital and the care of Dr. James E. Moulsdale, who misdiagnosed him with cellulitis, according to the complaint. That diagnosis was seconded by fellow urologist Robert F. Hoofnagle Jr., the complaint added.

But on May 10, 2008, an infectious disease specialist, Dr. Faheem F. Younus, noted the air found in the CT scan. Younus was the first doctor to express concern over necrotizing fasciitis, the flesh-eating bacteria. He discussed the case with Hoofnagle and noted “likely surgery” in Garczynski’s medical file, according to the complaint.

Hoofnagle operated on Garczynski on May 11, 2008 — 58.5 hours after the CT scan revealed air in the scrotal sac, a sign of flesh-eating bacteria, according to Salsbury. By that time, the surgery required extensive removal of dead tissue, including that around the penis, as well as removal of the scrotal sac and the right testicle, he said.

As a result, Garczynski lost a testicle as well part of his penis, and now suffers from lessened sensitivity as well as pain upon erection, the complaint said. Doctors had to graft skin from his leg onto his penis, which is now one-third shorter, according to Salsbury.

Had the surgery occurred after the initial CT scan, the penis, testicle and scrotal sac would have been spared, Salsbury said.

Four additional surgeries were required at the University of Maryland Medical Center, including the skin graft.

Garczynski, who had since moved to Delaware, sued Moulsdale and Hoofnagle in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on March 8, 2010. He alleged the doctors had “failed to appreciate in a timely manner the probable presence” of flesh-eating bacteria based on the CT scan taken nearly two-and-a-half days before surgery.

Attorneys for the doctors did not return telephone messages seeking comment on the case Wednesday afternoon.

Ronald U. Shaw, of Shaw, Joseph & Just PA in Hunt Valley, represented Hoofnagle. Moulsdale was represented by John R. Penhallegon of Cornblatt, Bennett, Penhallegon & Roberson PA in Towson.

The trial lasted seven days and the jury deliberated more than six hours before finding the two doctors liable, awarding a total of $1,530,313.27 in damages.

The award included $1.4 million in non-economic damages, $122,570.77 in past medical expenses and $7,742.50 in lost wages.

The non-economic damages will be reduced to $650,000 due to Maryland’s cap in medical malpractice cases in effect when the negligence occurred in May 2008, Salsbury said. The final award is expected to be $780,313.27.

The federal court had jurisdiction over the case based on the amount in controversy being more than $75,000 and the diversity of citizenship between Garczynski, who lives in Delaware, and the Maryland doctors.

GARCZYNSKI V. MOULSDALE ET AL.

Court:

U.S. District Court, Baltimore

Case No.:

1:10-cv-00573-PWG

Judge:

Paul W. Grimm

Outcome:

Jury verdict for plaintiff ($1.5 million, reduced to $780,000 due to statutory cap)

Dates:

Event: May 8, 2008-May 11, 2008

Suit filed: March 8, 2010

Trial: June 11, 2012-June 19, 2012

Verdict: June 20, 2012

Plaintiff’s Attorneys:

Stuart M. Salsbury and Ryan S. Perlin of Salsbury, Clemens, Bekman, Marder & Adkins LLC in Baltimore.

Defendant’s Attorney:

Ronald U. Shaw of Shaw, Joseph & Just PA in Hunt Valley and John R. Penhallegon of Cornblatt, Bennett, Penhallegon & Roberson PA in Towson.

Plaintiff’s Experts:

Kenneth Ring and Thomas W. Jarrett, urologists.

Defendant’s Experts:

Kevin Loughlin and Gerald P. Batipps, urologists.

Count:

Negligence (medical malpractice)