Maryland jury rejects gay man's bias claim

BY Advocate.com Editors

February 26 2003 1:00 AM ET

A jury has rejected a claim that the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical System denied a gay man contact with his dying partner. The six-person jury returned the verdict Monday in a claim brought by Bill Flanigan of San Francisco, who was the domestic partner and executor of the estate of Robert Daniel, 32. Daniel died October 19, 2000, at the Shock Trauma Center. Flanigan accused the center of discriminating against him by ignoring his power of attorney and not allowing him to see Daniel until Daniel slipped into unconsciousness, because the men were a gay couple. Flanigan and Daniel were visiting relatives in Havre de Grace, Md., when Daniel, who was HIV-positive, was stricken ill and transferred to the Shock Trauma Center on October 16 after being treated at Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace. Flanigan sought unspecified damages and attorneys' fees for "intentional infliction of emotional distress" and "failure to treat [Daniel] with reasonable level of professional care."

William B. Whiteford, who represented the University of Maryland Medical System, said Shock Trauma treated Flanigan no differently than 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, Whiteford said. "Shock Trauma recognized that family members include someone such as Mr. Daniel." The jury deliberated about 90 minutes, Whiteford said. Before reading the verdict, however, the jury said that it felt sorry for 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. 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," Fine said.

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