A former handyman has won more than $400,000 in a lawsuit over a penile implant that gave him a 10-year erection.
Charles "Chick" Lennon, 68, received the steel and plastic implant in 1996, about two years before Viagra went on the market. The Dura-II is designed to allow impotent men to position the penis upward for sex, then lower it.
But Lennon could not position his penis downward. He said he could no longer hug people, ride a bike, swim or wear bathing trunks because of the pain and embarrassment. He has become a recluse and is uncomfortable being around his grandchildren, his lawyer said.
In 2004, a jury awarded him $750,000. A judge called that excessive and reduced it to $400,000. On Friday, the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed that award in a ruling that turned on a procedural matter.
"I don't know any man who for any amount of money would want to trade and take my client's life," said Jules D'Alessandro, Lennon's attorney. "He's not a whole person."
A lawyer representing both Dura-II manufacturer Dacomed Corp. and the company's insurer declined to comment. Dacomed maintained that nothing was wrong with the implant.
The implant consists of a series of plastic plates strung together with steel surgical wire, almost like a roll of wrapped coins. Springs press against the plates, creating enough surface tension to simulate an erection, D'Alessandro said.
Lennon cannot get the implant removed because of health problems, including open-heart surgery, his lawyer said. Impotence drugs could not help Lennon even if he were able to have the device taken out, because tissue had be to removed for it to be implanted.
Dacomed was later acquired by a California company whose sales dropped when Viagra was introduced on the market. The company filed for bankruptcy the following year.