Insurer Opposes Award to R.I. Man for Malfunctioning Penile Implant

September 26, 2006

A former handyman from North Providence, Rhode Island, who won more than $400,000 in a lawsuit over a malfunctioning penile implant may not get the money after a judge dismissed his claim.

Superior Court Judge Edward C. Clifton last week granted a request by the implant manufacturer’s insurer to dismiss Charles “Chick” Lennon’s claim, which his lawyers say will amount to $1 million with interest included.

The implant has caused Lennon to have an erection for 10 years.

The medical device maker’s insurance company, National Union Fire Insurance Company, argued that since the device’s now-defunct manufacturer, Dacomed Corp., can’t be held liable for the device, it can’t, either.

Lennon’s lawyers responded, saying that the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed the award and made it clear the insurer has to pay it.

Lennon received the steel and plastic implant in 1996, about two years before the impotence drug 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, 68, said he can’t position his penis downward because the device is faulty, causing him pain and embarrassment.

“I’m suffering with it right now,” he told The Providence Journal during a recent interview. “It never stops. It’s like a constant headache.”

In 2004, a jury awarded him $750,000. Clifton called that excessive and reduced it to $400,000. In June, the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed that award.

Dacomed had maintained that nothing was wrong with the implant. It filed for bankruptcy after the lawsuit was filed.

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