18 Apr 2010 21:35
Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place—wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.
One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.
They weren’t finished there: to pay for the bills, the county decided that Clay and Harold’s house and all its contents would be auctioned off. And three months later, Harold died, alone.
UPDATE (July 24, 2010) Clay Green and Sonoma County have settled the case, and this PBS report of the settlement suggests both parties are happy with the outcome (not to mention Green’s lawyers, who should also be satisfied). Green and his partner’s estate receive cash compensation for the county’s actions, Green’s lawyers get paid, and the county alters its policies for property disposition and case management.