Florida court throws out case of lesbian banned from seeing dying partner
A lesbian who was banned by a hospital from visiting her dying partner has had her case thrown out of court.
Janice Langbehn sued Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami for not allowing her to see Lisa Pond, 39, her partner of 17 years.
Pond suffered a fatal brain aneurysm on February 18th, 2007. Langbehn says a social worker would not let her see her partner, who died alone the next day.
The couple, who had three adopted children, were on holiday on a gay-friendly Caribbean cruise when Pond became ill.
Langbehn and her children were not allowed to be with Pond in her final hours and hospital officials allegedly told Langbehn she was in an anti-gay city and state.
After waiting eight hours, she was eventually allowed to see Pond for five minutes as a priest performed the last rites.
Langbehn and gay charity Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit against Jackson Memorial Hospital but this was thrown out of court this week.
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled that the case should be dismissed because the hospital had no obligation to allow visitors to see patients.
It also ruled that there was no obligation to provide patients’ families, healthcare surrogates, or visitors with access to patients in their trauma unit.
The court has given the Langbehn-Pond family until October 16th to review the ruling and consider all legal options.
Beth Littrell, staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta, said: “The court’s decision paints a tragically stark picture of how vulnerable same-sex couples and their families really are during times of crisis.
“We hope that because of Janice’s courage to seek justice for her family in this case that more people better understand the costs of anti-gay discrimination. This should never happen to anyone.”