MIAMI - A jury on Tuesday found that an anesthesiologist who cleared a man for penile implant surgery was not responsible for flesh-eating bacteria consuming the man's penis.
Enrique Milla, then 60 (at left above), underwent elective penile implant surgery in 2007 to correct erectile dysfunction that was affecting his marriage. About nine days after the procedure, an infection turned gangrenous, and Milla had to have his penis amputated.
In 2009, Milla and his wife, Gloria, sued Dr. Laurentiu Boeru, an anesthesiologist, seeking tens of millions of dollars. A Miami-Dade County jury cleared Dr. Boeru on Tuesday.
The Millas, represented by Coral Gables attorney Spencer Aronfeld, also sued Dr. Paul Perito, a urologist, who settled out of court last year.
Boeru's trial began on May 14.
Milla, a Miami resident of 40 years who was deported to Lima, Peru shortly after filing his complaint, testified at the Miami-Dade Courthouse via Skype on Thursday, May 17.
Milla contended Boeru overlooked his diabetes and high blood pressure, which hindered his ability to recover properly.
But Boeru testified in court that Milla's infection was the result of his failure to follow post-op instructions. "Post-operative period is about anywhere between 6 to 24 hours after surgery," Boeru said. "It does not include either days or months."
Before the six-person jury of four men and two women was dismissed to deliberate at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Judge Beatrice Butchko instructed them: "Both sides have equal access to call witnesses who they deem appropriate. You are not to consider who an attorney did or did not call in your deliberations in this case. That is not an issue. You must decide the case on the evidence and on the law."
Less than 30 minutes later, the jury delivered its verdict.
One juror said, "It was a two-minute discussion."
Milla and his wife were present via Skype when the clerk read the decision: "Was there negligence on the part of Laurentiu M. Boeru M.D. which was a human cause of loss, injury or damage to Enrique Milla? Answer: No. So say we all on this 22 day of May, 2012."
After the trial, Boeru, represented by Jay Chimpoulis of Chimpoulis, Hunter & Lynn in Davie, was asked why he thought Milla had brought the lawsuit against him.
Boeru became emotional, at one point raising a quivering hand to shield his eyes, but never answered the question. Instead, he discussed his experience of enduring the trial.
"Sincerely, I came here in this country to seek freedom and to seek justice, and I have found both," the Romanian doctor said.
He continued: "The attorney from the other side had to rewrite the rules that are there in the operating team. ... The other parties have settled down with the plaintiff and the only cow to milk was me because I was the only one that had insurance, under the circumstances, that can be taken for a ride and can be, you know, extorted some money out of it. Usually the insurance companies, they prefer to settle. And you know why? Because there is a three-year process. A process that damaged my family life, my personal life."
Aronfeld, clad in a dark blue pin-stripped suit, was composed and concise in his interview that followed.
"I was provided in this case with an extremely unusual challenge. ... I've never tried a case without having my client sit next to me in a courtroom. This is the very first time in history that plaintiffs testified via Skype. That's a very unusual thing. Our expert witness on the standard of care was not here; we had his deposition transcript read, so these are challenges. ...
"I'm sure had the clients or plaintiffs been here perhaps it would have been a different result, but in the end, no matter what the jury says, Mr. Milla is going to have to live with the consequences of the decision that Dr. Boeru made on that day for the rest of his life.
"The fact that two people who are deported are able to have their day here in court and that at least they had their opportunity to have justice: that's the important thing and that's what we've been fighting for. And in the end the jury decided in favor of Dr. Boeru, and I respect the jury's decision. This was a very fair trial. The judge was very fair to both parties. And on this day the jury decided this is an appropriate way to handle patient care in our community. That's how the system is supposed to work."