An elderly gay man who was prevented from seeing his dying partner in the hospital social workers will receive $600,000 in a settlement, reports the Mercury News. Clay Greene, 78, of Guerneville, Calif filed a lawsuit against Sonoma County's Public Guardian program earlier this year, claiming he was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation.
Greene accused the county's social workers of denying him hospital visitation rights to see his partner, Harold Scull, despite medical declarations, powers of attorney, and signed wills that named each other as spouses. The couple was not married nor registered as domestic partners. The lawsuit also alleged that after Scull died, Greene was forced into a nursing home by social workers, who then sold many items of the couple's personal property.
Gregory Spaulding, the attorney who represented the county, denied the discrimination claims, but he admitted mistakes in selling the couple's property. According to the county, Greene was kept away from his partner because of previous domestic violence allegations. According to a sheriff's report, Scull went to authorities with a black eye, claiming Greene threatened to kill him. However, no formal complaint was lodged against Scull.
"The county remains confident in its position that there was no discrimination in this case," Spaulding says. Under the law, property worth $5,000 or less can be sold by officials to cover medical expenses, but the sale of the couple's property brought in more than $25,000 at auction. "Errors in that case have led to revised policies at the Public Guardian's office," Spaulding says.
Spaulding acknowledges the county settled the case Thursday to avoid further expense. "It just made economic sense to stop the bleeding," Spaulding says. "To end the case and avoid all expenses and costs."