PLEASANT PRAIRIE -- A man claims he was denied the right to see his husband in a Wisconsin Emergency Room.
Now the couple have filed a federal lawsuit, demanding more than $300,000 in damages.
TODAY'S TMJ4 spoke exclusively to the men about their claims, and the hospital's response.
Steven and Francisco Mimo-Lannoy claim their first medical emergency as a married couple was a nightmare. Not because of the injury, but by how they were treated by staff at Froedtert South - St. Catherine's Medical Center. Francisco claiming, "They violated our rights as a married couple."
The couple claims it all started in January 2018 at a Kenosha County tubing hill. Francisco's first trip down did not go well, "The person behind me came over and ran me over and threw me up in the air and that's how I got injured."
Steven says he beat the ambulance to the hospital and saw his husband being carted into the ER. Then he spoke to an employee at the front desk of the Emergency Room, "'I'm here to see my husband' is what I said, and that's when it all went like - everything changed. The attitude, how she told me to take a seat."
Francisco said, "They told me the first time that he wasn't there."
"I mean I went up to her three different times," says Steven, "I said, 'I wanna see my husband' and she said to me, "I already told the nurse back there that someone is here to see him,' and i flipped out. I'm not someone. I'm his freaking husband!"
The couple claims it took at least an hour before they could see each other.
"It was very clear that we were targeted because we were a gay couple," said Francisco.
That that's why they filed this latest federal lawsuit, but it is not their first attempt at litigation. Hospital leaders pointed us to a similar federal complaint that was dismissed last month. Records show the judge ruled the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and protections under the Affordable Care Act did not apply in that case.
The hospital also says the couple, "Filed two (2) substantially similar complaints with the State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Equal Rights Division, both of which were dismissed..."
The organization clarified, "...we did not dismiss anything based on the substance of the complaints" and it was withdrawn after the first federal suit was filed.
Now the couple is going through round two in court, claiming they researched and found at least four federal and state statutes the hospital violated when a staff member, "...personally escorted everyone inside the ED, to be with their loved ones. As long as their sexual orientation was to her satisfaction."
Hospital officials say they cannot comment on the specifics of the latest suit. A court date has not been set.
Here is the full statement from hospital leaders:
Froedtert South, Inc. does not comment on pending litigation. However, please know that Mr. Francisco Mimo-Lannoy previously filed a substantially similar complaint with the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which was removed by the Court in November 2018. Additionally, Mr. Mimo-Lannoy has filed two (2) substantially similar complaints with the State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Equal Rights Division, both of which were dismissed in February and March 2019. Furthermore, Mr. Mimo-Lannoy filed a substantially similar complaint with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, which was dismissed by the Court on July 12, 2019.
J. Thomas Duncan, III