Same-Sex Couple Cites Loss of Consortium in Conn. Med-Mal Suit

July 19, 2006

A same-sex couple has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit that their attorneys say is the first of its kind since Connecticut started allowing gay couples to enter into civil unions.

Margaret Mueller and Charlotte Stacey are suing two doctors, accusing them of treating Mueller for ovarian cancer when she actually had cancer of the appendix. They contend Mueller underwent years of devastating chemotherapy treatments while the real cancer spread.

“I think it’s any patient’s worst fear that everything they’re doing to treat themselves is for naught,” said Joshua Koskoff, an attorney for the couple.

Connecticut’s civil union law, passed last year, allowed Stacey also to sue for the harm to her relationship, known as a loss of consortium claim, Koskoff said. Before the law, only married couples could seek compensation, attorneys said. The civil union law gave gay couples the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples in Connecticut.

“The victims of malpractice are rich and poor, gay and straight, Democrat and Republican,” Koskoff said. “If that’s the case, the law shouldn’t discriminate in the way it treats victims of malpractice.”

Attorneys for the doctors, Iris Wertheim and Isidore Tepler, denied the allegations. They say the doctors provided appropriate care for a complex illness.

Eric Stockman, Wertheim’s attorney, said he does not plan to challenge Stacey’s right to be added to the lawsuit.

Mueller and Stacey were domestic partners for 21 years and were joined in a civil union on Nov. 12, 2005, according to the lawsuit.

The original lawsuit was filed earlier this year on Mueller’s behalf. The new lawsuit was amended in Stamford Superior Court to seek damages on Stacey’s behalf as well.

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