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Court tosses suit by lesbian over claim she was denied visitation with dying partner

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Janice LangbehnMIAMI — 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 next day.

From the beginning, Jackson said Langbehn was not discriminated against and defended social worker Garnett Frederick, who denied making the comment.

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