eyes of the law

Why Can’t This Dead Woman’s Widow Collect a $2.45M Medical Malpractice Award?

From the Dept. of Are You Freakin’ Kidding Me comes the story of Charlotte Stacey, a Connecticut lesbian who is jumping through legal hoops as she tries collecting a $2.45 million malpractice judgment awarded to her now-deceased wife Margaret Mueller (pictured, left). Even though same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, at least one judge thinks Stacey isn’t entitled to the cash — because she and Mueller didn’t legally recognize their relationship until after the malpractice was committed. Uh, because state law forbid them?

A six-member Stamford Superior Court jury on Friday ruled against Mueller’s gynecologist, saying Mueller, who died in January, was treated for the wrong kind of cancer; she had cancer of the appendix, but the gyno in 2001 referred Mueller to an ovarian cancer oncologist, who declared Mueller to be cancer free (yeah, of the ovaries) after 3.5 years of radiation treatment. By 2005, Mueller was having her intestines and colon removed, as the cancer had spread. Then she died, in January 2009.

Connecticut lawmakers, meanwhile, had passed a civil unions bill in 2005; in 2008 the State Supreme Court legalized marriage. And it’s that logistical timeline of “legal recognition” that has Stacey fighting for the multi-million dollar awarded to her dead partner’s estate: A judge declared Stacey could not be considered a plaintiff in the case. She’s now working to receive the judgment — awarded because a jury ruled HER WIFE DIED BECAUSE OF MALPRACTICE — in probate court.