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Friday, July 23, 2010

Sonoma County Settles Law Suit With Elderly Gay Man

This past April I blogged about a lawsuit in Sonoma County where an elderly gay man, Clay Greene was prevented from visiting his partner of 20 years, Harold Scull, as he lay dying in a hospital bed.

The lawsuit stated that officials had denied visitation and ignored signed wills, medical declarations and powers of attorney, naming each as the other's spouse.

Today it was announced that the Sonoma County has decided to settle out of court, just days before the trial was set to begin. They have agreed to pay Clay and Harold’s estate $600,000, and the defendant, Agua Caliente Villa, has agreed to pay an additional $53,000.

The county's lawyer, Gregory Spaulding, maintained there was never any discrimination but admitted the county made some mistakes. The law allows for the sale of property worth $5,000 or less to cover the cost of care. But Greene and Scull's property fetched more than $25,000 at auction.

In addition to paying out a substantial sum, as a result of Clay and Harold’s lawsuit, the County has changed or modified many important policies in its Office of Public Guardian, including requiring employees to follow protocols before seizing private property, preventing employees from relocating elders or others against their will, and prohibiting employees from backdating information in their guardianship databases.

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