Sonoma County, CA Agrees to $60K Settlement for Splitting Up Elderly Gay Couple

08/03/2010 // WPB, FL, USA // Nicole Howley // Nicole Howley

San Francisco, CA—Sonoma County has reached a $653,000 settlement with a elderly gay couple who were allegedly put into separate nursing homes, were denied their relationship and were kept from one another until the partner passed. The lawsuit says the county violated their rights, but the county claims otherwise, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

In April 2008, Harold Scull, 88, was admitted to the hospital after falling down the front steps of the home in Sebastopol, which he shared with his partner Clay Green, 78. According to the county public guardian’s office, Scull accused Green of domestic violence, which is an allegation Green’s lawyer disputes.

The lawsuit contends “the public guardian went to court to obtain conservatorship of Scull, whose mental health was deteriorating, and described Greene in court papers as Scull’s roommate, ignoring the powers of attorney both men had signed.”

Scull was then moved to an assisted living facility, while Greene was placed in a nursing home by the guardian’s office, which falsely defined him as demented. Greene was also refered as a “crazy old man.”

Sonoma County officials then auctioned off all of the men’s possessions, such as artworks, furniture, heirlooms and their bank accounts, after terminating their lease on their Sebastopol home.

In August 2008, Scull passed away before he could ever see his partner again. They were together for 20 years.

But according to the county, Scull had expresses his fear of returning home to Greene, which prompted the guardian’s office to place him in the assisted living facility “because of his frailty, and in compliance with his wishes.”

The county said that they only agreed to the settlement to avoid an expensive trial. The county’s Human Services Department claims there was no “credible evidence of discrimination of misconduct.” The settlement will be paid to Greene and to the estate of Harold Scull. The county agreed to pay $600,000, while the nursing home will pay $53,000.

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley

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