The Miami Herald
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Lesbian’s case against Jackson Memorial Hospital
A federal court has thrown out the case of a lesbian who was not
allowed to visit her dying partner at Jackson Memorial Hospital,
saying no law required the hospital to admit any visitors at
BY STEVE ROTHAUS
A federal court in Miami has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a
Washington state lesbian who was not allowed to visit her dying
partner at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
“The hospital took the position that we thought was pretty extreme
— that it has no duty, no legal obligation, to allow visitors [of
any sort] in the hospital. The court agreed,” said Beth Littrell,
a staff attorney for Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights group
representing Janice Langbehn, whose partner of 17 years died at
Jackson in 2007.
Langbehn’s partner, Lisa Pond, suffered a fatal brain aneurysm on
Feb. 18, 2007, shortly before they were to sail with their three
children on a Caribbean cruise for gay families.
At Jackson, Langbehn said, a social worker would not let her visit
Pond because Florida is “an anti-gay state.” Pond, 39, died the
From the beginning, Jackson said Langbehn was not discriminated
against and defended social worker Garnett Frederick, who denied
making the comment.
Langbehn, with the help of Lambda Legal, sued the hospital. The
case, which received publicity around the country, was thrown out
“We’re obviously devastated and disappointed in this decision,”
Littrell said. “It highlights how vulnerable same-sex couples and
their families are.”
Jackson on Tuesday again denied that gay patients and their
families are treated differently.
“We have always believed and known that the staff at Jackson treats
everyone equally, and that their main concern is the well-being of
the patients in their care,” Jackson spokeswoman Jennifer Piedra
said in a news release.
“At Jackson Health System, we believe in a culture of inclusion.
For more than 90 years, the institution has taken great pride in
serving everyone who enters its doors, regardless of race, creed,
religious beliefs or sexual orientation. We also employ a very
diverse workforce, one that mirrors the community we serve,”
Added Piedra: “Jackson will continue to work with the gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgender community to ensure that everyone knows
they are welcome at all of our facilities, where they will receive
the highest quality of medical care.”