Dance instructor Jill Jacobs went into the hospital to get a uterine cyst removed. She left having undergone a total hysterectomy—one she didn't really want, and had hoped doctors might avoid. And yet, a jury only coughed up $142,000 in damages.
The Daily News has the story. The issue is whether the doctors at NYU Langone Medical Center properly informed Jacobs what was going to happen, as well as her alternative options. Jacobs signed a consent form that allowed the hysterectomy shortly before surgery, but says she understood that the procedure would only be performed if the surgeons found signs of cancer. Spoiler alert: A blood test had already shown she didn't have cancer. (It seems the doctors, meanwhile, were proceeding on the assumption the hysterectomy was the best way to deal with the fibroids.)
Anyway, this trial wasn't really a question of right or wrong or proper treatment—a judge had already ruled malpractice upon learning of the blood test. The question here was specifically one of damages. What was Jacobs due?
Even if you're already on the verge of menopause and the operation happens under the best of circumstances, a hysterectomy is a damned drastic way to experience the Change of Life. And Jacobs' suit says the repercussions went a lot further than that, claiming that besides the blow to her self-image, Jacobs is dealing with depression and various physical ailments. "This was a violation of a woman's body like none other," said her lawyer.
But the defense (of course) downplayed the impact. Nothing to see here! No big deal that this lady didn't particularly want this hysterectomy!
Devlin told jurors that Jacobs lied on the witness stand about developing a hernia due to the surgery and questioned the alleged impact of the hysterectomy on the patient's sex life.
"What did she tell you?" the defense lawyer asked the jury. "Nothing about her sexual relations with her husband. She only told you she didn't feel like wearing lingerie at home anymore.
"I urge you to award zero damages. There are no damages," Devlin added.
Seems the jurors found this at least somewhat persuasive, because they coughed up an award that's likely less than NYU Langone's annual toilet-paper budget. Because hey, what's a little trauma and abrupt menopause between friends?
Photo via ABB Photo/Shutterstock.