Florida Woman Barred From Seeing Dying Partner of 18 Years by Hospital

3265516300_e029f17dc9For years gay and lesbian couples have complained about being denies access to loved ones in hospitals. Now, a lawsuit has been filed in Miami in which Janice Langbehn alleges that she was prevented from being with her partner of 18 years, Lisa Marie Pond, 39, as she died at Jackson Memorial Hospital after a brain aneurysm. The reason for the denial was never made clear to her.

Pond suffered a brain aneurysm in February 2007 and fell into a coma. She said that the hospital would not allow her or their three children to see Pond.

She alleges negligence in forcing her and the children to sit for roughly eight hours while Pond allegedly died alone. She says that she supplied a health care directive form and a power of attorney document to JMH, but was still denied access. She is suing the hospital, two doctors and a social worker.

The denial of such access can clearly constitute negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. However, gay and lesbian couples often have trouble on infliction claims, which (in the case of third party injuries) are often limited to “close family members” or non-family members who suffer physical injuries. In this case, she can claim that she was not a third party but the direct victim of a negligent infliction.

On negligence, it would seem a straight-forward claim. If the hospital failed to recognize valid papers or refused to explain their decision, it could make for liability. It may also send a message to hospitals that patients and their families have enforceable rights in such circumstances.

Florida recently passed a new law defining marriage as restricted to a man and woman.

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21 thoughts on “Florida Woman Barred From Seeing Dying Partner of 18 Years by Hospital”

  1. Lindy Lou,
    My heart also goes out to Janice and I despair at the unfeeling treatment of gay people in our society. Thank you Lindy Lou for your furthering the information on the social worker as juxtaposed with what is stated hospital policy. As a long time social worker educated at the Ivy League pinnacle of Social Work, Columbia University, I found out early that despite its’ claims of purity the profession has as many self-serving creeps as any other occupation. While I had some brilliant, caring and accomplished professors at CUSSW, many were just careerists who enjoyed the benefits of life in Academia. They looked with disdain upon the masses and were even hypocrites when it came to dealing with students of color, sexual preference and/or ethnicity. In my long work in the profession I found many who not only harbored some kind of bigotry, but who lacked the backbone of the profession namely empathy.

    I think Janice ran into that type of social worker, who was working for that type of SW department. I was bitterly amused during the Bush years to see the proliferation of papers in SW journals suddenly praising and investigating the opportunities of tying SW to religion. What occurred at the Jackson Health System was a disgusting horror. While the harm done can never be taken back I sure hope that the hospital and perpetrators are made to pay for their lack of humanity.

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