Lawsuit: Law firm wrong on penis amputation claim

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By Tim Korte

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque law firm failed to properly investigate its claim that a nursing home patient lost his penis because of the facility's negligence, according to a lawsuit filed by the facility.

In the federal lawsuit filed in September, THI of New Mexico at Valle Norte accused the Harvey Law Firm of malicious abuse of process and civil conspiracy stemming from a July 2007 case for a client, James Tracy. The dispute was first reported by the Albuquerque Journal.

The nursing home said the claim wasn't adequately investigated by lawyers Dusti Harvey and Feliz Rael before they pursued action on behalf of Tracy, who has since died. They had claimed that Valle Norte's negligent care led to a "severe delay in treatment of priapism, resulting in loss of penis."

Priapism is a persistent painful erection that lasts for more than four hours and is not related to sexual stimulation.

The nursing home's lawsuit against the firm said the lawyers pursued litigation "without any medical evidence to show that Mr. Tracy suffered an amputation ... or that Valle Norte's conduct had caused even a remote causal link to any penile injury."

The lawsuit also said that despite repeated claims by the Harvey law firm that Tracy had lost his penis, before-and-after photographs demonstrate that didn't happen.

The Harvey firm eventually withdrew from the state litigation and that lawsuit was dismissed when a judge granted the defense motion. Tracy failed to hire a new lawyer, and no motion opposing the dismissal request was filed for him.

A lawyer for the Harvey firm, Jack Brant, said Tuesday that Tracy's lawsuit alleged nursing home staffers were negligent because they treated the condition as a joke and that the patient didn't receive appropriate medical attention.

"Mr. Tracy was in Valle Norte's care. He developed this condition, priapism; Valle Norte failed to treat it properly and as a result he suffered serious injury," Brant said.

He said Tracy's lawsuit was "a viable claim for personal injury."