California county settles lawsuit over alleged mistreatment of older gay couple

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A 78-year-old gay resident has settled a lawsuit with Sonoma County, CA. He had accused the county of separating him and his now-deceased gay partner, forcing them into long-term care facilities and selling off all their possessions.

Clay Greene, 78, and the estate of Howard Scull settled with the county for $653,000. After falling down the steps of their home in April of 2008, Scull, 88, was placed in an assisted living facility by the Sonoma County public guardian's office. The county public guardian's office said Scull accused Greene of domestic violence. Greene's lawyers and a representative of Scull's estate have disputed those allegations. Greene, who was falsely described as demented, subsequently was forced into a nursing home, the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper reported. The county then terminated the couple's lease and auctioned off their property, according to the lawsuit.

County officials denied allegations that they violated the men's rights but moved to settle the case, rather than pay for a trial, according to the Chronicle.  An attorney for Greene said the victory “sends an unmistakable message that all elders must be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their sexual orientation.”