Woman Sues Hospital For Keeping Her From Dying Partner

Jim Burroway

June 27th, 2008

Janice Langbehn is suing Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami because hospital administrators refused to allow her access to her dying partner.

Langbehn-Pond Family

In February 2007, Ms. Langbehn, her partner Lisa Marie Pond, and three of their four children were in Florida preparing for a cruise to celebrate their eighteenth anniversary. But before the cruise could leave port, Ms. Pond suffered a massive stroke and was taken to Jackson Memorial. But hospital personnel refused to let Langbehn into Pond’s hospital room, even after a legal power of attorney was faxed to the hospital. Pond was pronounced dead of a brain aneurysm about eighteen hours after being admitted to the hospital. The only time Langbehn was allowed to see her partner was when a priest was giving her last rites.

Langbehn filed a federal lawsuit in Miami on Wednesday charging hospital employees with negligence and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” The suit seeks damages in excess of $75,000. You can read Janice’s account of the ordeal here.

This is why marriage is so important. Hospitals like Jackson Memorial claim that because Langbehn wasn’t Ponds “immediate family,” they could ignore all evidence of their actually being one — even when presented with a legal power of attorney that anti-gay activists claim would make everything “equal” but separate.

Jackson Memorial Hospital is affiliated with the University of Miami, and touts itself as “one of America’s finest medical facilities.”


July 3rd, 2008

If this couple had full legal rights, then how would changing the law fix the problem? If the hospital ignored the civil union law, wouldn’t they also ignore a marriage law? This seems a problem of changing minds, not laws.


July 3rd, 2008


My understanding is that many people and agencies do not fully understand the rights that are given by Domestic Partnerships. This couple had additional legal documents to protect them, but were required to physically produce them. Everyone understands the rights that pertain to marriage which is why the name is so important. No one would keep a spouse from their married partner knowing that it is their right. With Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions, the rights are not known especially as they vary from State to State.


July 10th, 2008

I am very behind in catching up on old posts – but did not want to let this go by without expressing my deep sadness for this family. It is tragic that Lisa had to die alone – with loving family members trapped behind locked doors. Our common humanity suffers with a story and experience like this one.

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