Decorah recently won a $12.25 million judgment for a Panora man who underwent unnecessary prostate cancer surgery.
A Polk County jury awarded the unanimous verdict April 5 after three hours of deliberations to Rick Huitt and his wife, Judy. Huitt’s unnecessary prostate cancer surgery resulted in impotence and urinary incontinence, his lawyers said.
According to the law firm, the Iowa Clinic and its pathologist, Joy Trueblood mixed Huitt up with another patient who actually did have cancer.
For over three months, Huitt and his wife of 45 years believed he had cancer spreading throughout his body. The urologist, who was relying on the pathology report, said the cancer was extensive, so a radical prostatectomy had to be performed, which included removal of nerves. However, Huitt was actually cancer free.
Huitt had just retired from John Deere after a 41-year career on a line in the factory to spend more time with his wife, three children and three grandchildren. During the trial, Judy Huitt teared up as she testified about how she and her husband had had an active love life before Rick Huitt’s surgery.
Huitt goes through two to three urinary pads per day which he has to wear because of the damage caused by the surgery.  The Huitts both testified how their lives have changed dramatically since the surgery, how they try to hide the urine smell from their grandchildren by using air fresheners to try to mask the problem.
The Huitts sought damages of $15 million from the Iowa Clinic and Trueblood.
A lawyer for the clinic and the doctor recommended jurors award $750,000. Initially, the head of the claims division of the Clinic’s insurer, MMIC, took the position that the case was only worth $350,000 in the state of Iowa, Trial Lawyers for Justice reported.
The head pathologist never apologized to the family and never changed the pathology report even after the litigation. Huitt’s medical record still has a pathology report that states he has cancer. 
“When a hard-working man reaches the prime of his life and can finally retire and enjoy time with his loving wife, there is an expectation that going to a clinic should not result in life-altering surgery that is 100 percent unnecessary and caused by a mix-up by the pathologist,” said Nick Rowley, lead trial lawyer for the family, founder of Trial Lawyers for Justice and partner at Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley.
“For him, he’s lost his manhood, and an Iowa jury agrees his manhood is worth a lot more than $750,000.”
Following the verdict, Iowa Clinic spokeswoman Amy Himes told the Des Moines Register: “We are disappointed in the jury’s decision but have great respect for the legal process. We will be evaluating our legal options.”
Trial Lawyers for Justice focuses on personal injury law. In addition to its Decorah headquarters, the firm has additional offices in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, New York, Washington, Alaska and California.