A former handyman has won more than $400,000 in a lawsuit over a penile
implant that has given him a 10-year erection.
Charles "Chick" Lennon, 68, 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
But Lennon can't position his penis downward. He can no longer hug people,
ride a bike, swim or wear bathing trunks because of the pain and embarrassment,
and wears a fanny pack across his front to hide his condition. He has become a
recluse and is uncomfortable being around his grandchildren, his lawyer said.
In 2004, a jury awarded him $750,000. A judge called that excessive and
reduced it to $400,000. On Friday, the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed that
award in a ruling that turned on a procedural matter.
"I don't know any man who for any amount of money would want to trade and
take my client's life," said Jules D'Alessandro, Lennon's attorney. "He's not a
A lawyer representing both Dura-II manufacturer Dacomed Corp. and the
company's insurer declined to comment. Dacomed maintained that nothing was wrong
with the implant. It filed for bankruptcy after the lawsuit was filed.
Lennon cannot get the implant removed because of health problems, including
open-heart surgery, his lawyer said. Impotence drugs could not help Lennon even
if he were able to have the device taken out because the drugs affect tissue
that was removed to install the Dura-II, D'Alessandro said.
The implant consists of a series of plastic plates strung together with steel
surgical wire, almost like a roll of wrapped coins. Springs press against the
plates, creating enough surface tension to simulate an erection, D'Alessandro
An expert testified for Lennon at trial that the problem was caused because
the springs weren't set properly or the surface of the plates allowed too much
friction, D'Alessandro said.
Implants have become less common since Viagra and other impotence drugs were
approved, said Dr. Theodore Ongaro, a clinical urologist at Massachusetts
General Hospital in Boston . He said most patients prefer swallowing a pill to
surgery. Even when implants were more popular, they were a treatment of last
resort, he said.
Dacomed was later acquired by a California company whose sales dropped when
Viagra was introduced on the market. The company filed for bankruptcy the