Community Support

Lambda Legal sues Florida hospital for mistreatment of deceased lesbian’s family

Lambda Legal has filed a lawsuit against Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami for the negligent and outrageous treatment towards the family of Lisa Pond, a lesbian whose partner of 18 years and their three children were not allowed to see her as she slipped into a coma and died.

“The treatment that Janice and her children received was outrageous, unethical and discriminatory,” said Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. “Having your worst family nightmare compounded by mistreatment by hospital staff is more than anyone should have to endure.”

While on a family cruise leaving from Miami Lisa Pond – a healthy 39 year-old – suddenly collapsed. She was rushed to Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital with her partner Janice and three children following close behind. There, the hospital refused to accept information from Janice about her partner’s medical history. Janice was informed that she was in an antigay city and state, and she could expect to receive no information or acknowledgment as family. A doctor finally spoke with Janice telling her that there was no chance of recovery. Other than one five minute visit, which was orchestrated by a Catholic priest at Janice’s request to perform last rites, and despite the doctor’s acknowledgement that no medical reason existed to prevent visitation, neither Janice nor her children were allowed to see Lisa until nearly eight hours after their arrival. Soon after Lisa’s death, Janice tried to get her death certificate in order to get Life Insurance and Social Security benefits for their children. She was denied both by the State of Florida and the Dade County Medical Examiner.

“There is nothing that can make up for what my children and I endured that day,” said Lambda Legal client Janice Langbehn about the way she was treated on the day her partner, Lisa Pond, died. “We only want the hospital to take responsibility for how they treated us and ensure that it doesn’t happen to another family.”

In January, Lambda Legal sent a letter to Jackson Memorial Hospital and later announced its intent to file a lawsuit on behalf of the Langbehn-Pond family. After receiving no response from the hospital despite providing them sufficient opportunity to avoid litigation, Janice and her family are now able to seek justice in a court of law.

“For more than 8 hours, Lisa Pond’s family was kept from her side as she lay dying,” said Lambda Legal cooperating attorney, Don Hayden of Baker & McKenzie. “Jackson needs to understand that this mistreatment of families is unacceptable and must assure us that no other family will have to endure the indignities that were experienced here.”

Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta is lead counsel on the case for Lambda Legal. She is joined by co-counsel Donald J. Hayden of Baker & McKenzie, LLP.

Article adapted by ProudParenting.com from original press release