After a 20-year relationship and setting up legal documentation for him and his partner to care for each other in their final days of life, 88-year-old Clay Greene ended up financially wiped out and in the middle of a legal battle against his California county.
Greene's partner, 77-year-old Harold Scull, became ill and then was injured in a fall at the men's home in Sebastopol in April 2008 and was hospitalized. Despite their official power of attorney documents, which delegated health care responsibilities to each other, Sonoma County officials denied Greene's requests to care for and make decisions for Scull. As a result, Greene has filed a lawsuit against the county.
According to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, while Scull was in the hospital, deputy public guardians went to the men's home, took photographs, and commented on the desirability and quality of their shared furnishings, artwork, and collectibles. Though their legal documents affirmed his right to do so, county and health care professionals refused to allow Greene to assist in making medical decisions or to even visit Scull in the hospital. The county is said to have involuntarily committed Greene, who was healthy, and then placed the couple in separate nursing homes. County officials then went to court to testify that Greene was simply Clay's "roommate" and sought full rights to make financial decisions on his behalf. The court denied their request but did grant them limited access to a bank account to pay for care.
After the men had been placed in nursing homes, the county terminated the couple's lease and liquidated all of their assets without any effort to differentiate the ownership of items. According to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is assisting in the case, Greene was left only with a photo album put together during Scull's last three months before he died in his assigned nursing home.
Greene's lawsuit names the auction company and a nursing home as defendants, in addition to several county officials. A hearing in the case has been set for July 16 in Sonoma County superior court.