Lesbian Couple Files Joint Malpractice Lawsuit

Lesbian Couple Files Joint Malpractice Lawsuit

A Connecticut same-sex couple filed a medical malpractice lawsuit for a cancer misdiagnosis that ruined their love life, making the case the first of its kind under the state’s new civil union law.

The Claim: Botched Cancer Treatments
Margaret Mueller and Charlotte Stacey allege two doctors were negligent when diagnosing and treating Mueller with ovarian cancer when she had actually appendix cancer. They claim the grueling years of chemotherapy treatment damaged their sex life.

Mueller was diagnosed with ovarian cancer years ago and began a series of intense treatments that left her weak and disabled. According to the lawsuit, she got a second opinion last year by a doctor who told her that the cancer was misdiagnosed. Mueller immediately underwent a 12-hour surgical procedure to rid her body of as much of the appendix cancer as possible.

The lawsuit claims the painful treatment and rapid spread of Mueller’s cancer of the appendix could have been prevented if doctors adequately read and reviewed the pathology report that identified the correct cancer.

The couple alleges the cancer treatments have caused Mueller immense pain and suffering. She uses a colostomy bag, can hardly walk short distances, or perform simple tasks.

Loss of Consortium
In personal injury cases, married couples may sue over damage to their love lives, known as loss of consortium.

According to Mueller and Stacey’s attorney, Joshua Koskoff, Connecticut’s civil union law—passed last year—allows gay couples most of the same rights as heterosexual married couples, thus entitling Stacey to seek damages for loss of consortium.

“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.”

Lawyers for the doctors do not plan on challenging Stacey’s right to be named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

State Sen. Andrew McDonald believes this case will exemplify how the Connecticut civil law was designed to work.

“Under the law, this is a no-brainer,” said McDonald, who helped write the law. “Without a doubt any couple who is joined in a civil union has exactly the same rights under our law as a married couple, including the right to maintain action in the courts for loss of consortium.”

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