Same Sex Couple Discrimination – Sharon Reed’s Story

Imagine a different world — a world of full equality for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. A world where everyone has the same rights in housing, jobs, public accommodations, equal access to government benefits and equal protection of the law. That is not the world that JoAnn Ritchie and Sharon Reed found themselves in, on the night of September 3, 2005, at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. Sharon, a psychotherapist, and JoAnn, a City of Seattle housing administrator, had been life-partners for 17 years, when JoAnn’s chronic illness worsened and she was hospitalized at the University of Washington Medical Center. On September 3, 2005, JoAnn was moved to the ICU and came under the care of a contract nurse, Karen Hulley, for the night. And on that night, their lives changed forever. Despite the fact that the University and JoAnn’s doctor permitted Sharon to be by her beside constantly, Nurse Hulley, repeatedly refused Sharon access to JoAnn’s room and bedside, continually evicting her from the room. By the time Sharon regained access to her partner the next morning, JoAnn’s condition had deteriorated, and she was heavily drugged. She died within a matter of hours. The Insider Exclusive now goes ”Behind the Headlines” to visit with Sharon Reed and her lawyer Judith Lonnquist, as they relive the “Long Night from Hell,” as Sharon watched – from a distance – the love of her life, JoAnn, slowly dying alone, all because of the cruelty and the insensitivity of the “Nurse from Hell,”Karen Hulley. Judith will explain the justifiable reasons behind the lawsuit they have filed against Nurse Hulley and her employer, which the courts have refused to dismiss both at the trial and the appellate levels and is scheduled for trial in April 2010.

Judith Lonnquist specializes in plaintiffs’ employment and civil rights law, with an occasional foray into traditional labor law and campaign finance law. She is a founder of the Northwest Women’s Law Center and served as National Legal Vice President to the National Organization for Women, and as a member of Washington State’s Gender & Justice Taskforce. Judith is a member of various Bar and legal associations and She served as President of the Washington Employment Lawyers Association, on the WSTLA Board of Governors and on the Executive Committee for the WSBA Litigation Section. She is a graduate of the Trial Lawyers College founded by Gerry Spence. She is a frequent speaker on plaintiff’s employment law and trial and appellate procedure and strategies, and is listed in America’s Best Lawyers, Seattle’s Best Lawyers, and as a “Super Lawyer” by Washington Law and Politics. Judith is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and the University of Chicago Law School.

The Law Offices of Judith A. Lonnquist, P.S. is a Seattle, Washington, plaintiff’s civil rights and employment law firm. Founded in 1986, the firm currently has three lawyers who between them have over 70 years of employment law experience. The founder, Judith A. Lonnquist, has twice served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Washington Employment Law Deskbook and is consistently named by Law and Politics Magazine as a Top Washington Lawyer. The firm handles employment-related legal matters or claims for employees in Washington State.

You can contact Judith Lonnquist at 206-622-2086.