- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 26, 2003

BALTIMORE A jury has rejected a claim that the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical System prevented a homosexual man from contact with his dying partner.
The six-person jury returned the verdict Monday in the claim brought by Bill Flanigan of San Francisco, who was the domestic partner and executor of the estate of Robert Daniel, 32. Mr. Daniel died Oct. 19, 2000 at the trauma center.
Mr. Flanigan had accused the trauma center of discriminating against him by ignoring his power of attorney and not letting him see Mr. Daniel until Mr. Daniel slipped into unconsciousness, because the men were a same-sex couple.
"Obviously, we are deeply disappointed by this verdict," said David Buckel, an attorney with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is representing Mr. Flanigan. "Robert suffered alone while Bill sat in the waiting room, frustrated and frightened. They never got to say goodbye. While Bill certainly isn't the first gay person to be treated like a stranger by a hospital, he's the first to stand up and fight back this way."
Mr. Buckel said Lambda Legal Defense "will immediately begin exploring options for an appeal."
Mr. Flanigan and Mr. Daniel were visiting relatives when Mr. Daniel, who was HIV positive, was stricken ill and transferred to the trauma center Oct. 16, after being treated at Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace.
Mr. Flanigan, who was also represented by Stuart Delery of the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering of Washington, sought unspecified damages and attorneys' fees for "intentional infliction of emotional distress" and "failure to treat [Mr. Daniel] with reasonable level of professional care."
William Whiteford, who represented the University of Maryland Medical System, said the trauma center treated Mr. Flanigan no differently from any other family members of patients.
"Mr. Flanigan was given access to Mr. Daniel when medical personnel felt the unit was capable of receiving family members," because of the patient load and staff duties, Mr. Whiteford said. "Shock trauma recognized that family members include someone such as Mr. Daniel."
The jury deliberated about 90 minutes, Mr. Whiteford said.
Before reading the verdict, however, the jury said it felt sorry for Mr. Flanigan's loss and thought the University of Maryland Medical System could have communicated better with him, forewoman Bailey Fine told the Baltimore Daily Record of Baltimore.
The jury hoped "to tell the University of Maryland Medical System that they have to figure out a better way of communicating with people in the waiting room," Miss Fine said.
Neither Mr. Flanigan nor Mr. Delery returned calls seeking comment Monday night.


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