Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond had planned to take their three children on a family cruise. The Olympia, Washington, USA, couple had been together 18 years and with their children were looking forward to the holiday.
But just as they were about to depart on the cruise from Miami, Florida. Pond, a healthy 39-year-old, suddenly collapsed. She was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami with Langbehn and the children following close behind.
But once Langbehn and the children arrived at the hospital the hospital refused to accept information from her about Ponds’s medical history.
Langbehn says she 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 Langbehn’s request to perform last rites, and despite the doctor’s acknowledgement that no medical reason existed to prevent visitation, neither she nor her children were allowed to see Pond until nearly eight hours after their arrival.
Soon after Pond’’s death, Langbehn 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.
With the help of Lambda Legal Langbehn has notified Jackson Memorial Hospital that she intends to file a lawsuit.
“There is nothing that can make up for what my children and I endured that day,” Langbehn says of the day 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 accordance with Florida law, Lambda Legal is waiting for the hospital to respond to the notice of intent to sue before formally filing a complaint with the court.
“The treatment that Janice and her children received was unethical and discriminatory,” said Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal.
“This letter puts them on notice that we are advocating for justice for Janice and her children.”