A Baltimore Circuit Court jury ruled as unfounded yesterday allegations that staff at Maryland Shock Trauma Center had discriminated against a gay man when they barred him from his partner's deathbed.
William Robert Flanigan Jr. had filed suit against the medical center last year alleging that on Oct. 16, 2000, hospital employees blocked him from the 10-bed resuscitation unit for more than six hours while his partner, Robert Lee Daniel, lay dying of AIDS, because Flanigan was not "family."
Flanigan alleged that because he was unable to tell doctors that his partner did not want breathing tubes or a respirator used, Daniel's final wish not to be put on life-support machinery was violated.
Daniel feared dying alone in a hospital and had signed a legal document in 1996 that gave Flanigan power of attorney to make medical decisions on his behalf. The document said Daniel did not want life-sustaining intervention.
The chief physician at Shock Trauma, Dr. Thomas Scalea, has said that Flanigan was barred because doctors were too busy trying to save Daniel's life to allow visitors. He has also said the document was irrelevant because Daniel was conscious, alert and consented to surgery and a breathing tube.
Two days later, Daniel was removed from life support after staff consulted with Flanigan and Daniel's mother and sister.
"The allegations made in this case were indeed hurtful to us because they had painted an inaccurate picture of the way we care for patients," Shock Trauma Vice President John Spearman said in a statement.
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund attorneys representing Flanigan could not be reached for comment.