In April 2017, Rickie and Judy Huitt were at The Iowa Clinic, located in Des Moines, where Rickie was scheduled for an operation. Earlier that year, the retired John Deere factory worker had been diagnosed with prostate cancer that required surgery. Dr. Joy Trueblood, one of the pathologists at the clinic, performed the procedure, removing his prostate gland. However, after another pathologist inspected the purportedly affected gland, it was determined the organ was never cancerous.
It seems as though Dr. Trueblood confused tissue sample slides from another male patient, that had cancer and attributed them to Mr. Huitt. The outcome of the surgery caused local nerve damage to the area, which resulted in incontinence and erectile dysfunction. It is difficult to comprehend the emotions the couple experienced after discovering the truth about this unnecessary treatment.
Unfortunately, this happens more than people could imagine. According to a study released in 2016 by Johns Hopkins, more than 250,000 cases of medical errors are the cause of death in the United States. Although Rickie Huitt survived, the wrong action taken by the physician made a devastating impact on him and his wife’s life.
The couple filed a suit against The Iowa Clinic and Dr. Trueblood, seeking 15 million dollars in damages; however, Jack Hilmes, the attorney representing the clinic suggested that the sum of money awarded should be only $750,000. He stated that Rickie was 67 years old and although the operation he had was not required, he could still perform activities, such as mowing the yard and driving a vehicle to pick up his grandkids from school.
When Mrs. Huitt took the stand, she tearfully stated that the love life they had before had diminished and because of involuntary urination, he has to use several urine-absorbent pads every day. In addition, she felt their lives would never be complete again because of this major error by the medical community.
Nick Rowley, a famous malpractice suit lawyer, was the leader of the four-member team of attorneys The Huitts had hired to present their case in court. In his closing argument, Mr. Huitt told the jury that Rickie had lost his manhood and it could not be restored. They deserved the amount for which they were asking.
In the end, the Polk County jury awarded Rickie and Judy Huitt 12.25 million dollars.