Bigger is better

Posted on October 13, 2008. Filed under: Medico-legal issues, Sexual issues |

In the mid-1970’s, few doctors and almost none of the general public were aware of the existence of one of the 20th century’s most wonderful and most overlooked inventions: the inflatable penile prosthesis. Not so for the late Lafayette, Louisiana barrister J. Minos Simon (it’s a Cajun name, pronounced “minus see-maw”). His private medical library rivaled that of the local hospitals, and he often appeared in court seemingly better informed about the medical aspects of his clients’ cases than the health-care professionals he routinely grilled. A bulldog when convinced of the legitimacy of his position, Simon successfully sued Pope John Paul II in the early ’80’s as part of his ground-breaking attack on serial pedophile Father Gilbert Gauthe, a moral, ethical, and social vilification from which the Catholic church has never recovered.

Simon championed “lesser” causes as well, albeit for 40% of the action, but hey, that’s the American way. One such led to his involvement with the IPP. Lafayette is the “headquarters” for offshore oil and gas exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico, as indicated by the presence, among other oil service companies, of the largest private helicopter company in the world. The offshore oil and gas industry is a magnet for personal injury attorneys because of the Jones Act, a federal statute that comes into effect beginning thirty miles offshore. Closer in, workers’ injuries are no-fault, covered under state Worker’s Compensation, and limited mainly to actual expenses and loss of income. Under the Jones Act, the sky is the limit, allowing huge punitive awards shared by the plaintiffs and those champions of the underdog who stand up to “the man” for millions of dollars in attorney fees. Simon had such a case in the person of Leroy Meaux (name changed to prevent a flood of calls from interested women). Leroy had been seriously injured while working about 100 miles offshore on a major-company oil rig. Among the consequences of his injuries was the inability to achieve penile erections.

Because of his voracious appetite for reading about medical advances, Simon knew that Dr. Brantley Scott at Baylor University had invented a device and an operation that could be the solution to Meaux’s problem. In fact, at the time, it was the only possible solution. Simon made the arrangements, and Meaux’s manhood was restored. Eventually, after the requisite several years of depositions and posturing, the matter came to federal trial. Most of Meaux’s injuries, their treatment, and the consequences were fairly straight-forward, but when it came to the penis problem, Simon had to address the jury about a matter that had not yet been broached by the likes of Bob Dole. Such discussion had rarely been heard in a public courtroom, instead being relegated to venues enhanced by cigar smoke and clinking long-neck beer bottles. 

Simon skillfully led Meaux’s testimony through the entire embarrassing episode, including an unexpected wrinkle. Meaux had completed all the necessary pre-operative rigamarole, and was brought to the operating room for his surgery. It was then that Dr. Scott discovered that his company, American Medical Systems, had no IPP’s that would accommodate Meaux’s remarkable endowment. Indeed, Leroy was a couple of standard deviations above the norm; a “special order” device would be necessary. A “Titanic” version was commissioned, and two weeks later, Leroy became a new man. 

Now, jurors are not always known for their rapt attention to the complicated details of litigation, and many an attorney has lost a needed vote to the the overcoming lure of a nap. But not on this occasion. Simon said all twelve citizens seemed mesmerized by Meaux’s testimony. Shortly after, when the closing statements had been rendered, the twelve retired to consider their verdict. After only fifteen minutes, they sent a message to the judge requesting further information. The bailiff read it aloud, trying to remain sober: “Judge, could we please see the plaintiff’s penis?”

The judge ruled against the request. Meaux won his case, and his millions, but twelve people too unsophisticated to get out of jury duty went home disappointed, with only who-knows-what mental images of the reconstructed Leroy Meaux.

And that’s the truth.

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    About

    The director of the Sexual Medicine Center leaves penile implants behind, and launches a quest for knowledge about Artificial Intelligence, extended life, and the issues inside the health-care industry.

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