Gloria Barron's emotional distress may be real, but neither Humana Hospital West Anaheim nor Anaheim Memorial Hospital was the cause of the woman's sleepless nights, pain, anger and episodes of colitis, attorneys for the hospitals said in closing arguments Wednesday in Orange County Superior Court.
The 53-year-old widow contends that she was emotionally damaged when the intensive-care staffs of the two hospitals refused to let her see her husband as he lay dying after a heart attack in July, 1984.
But the hospitals' attorneys claimed that a number of factors contributed to her emotional distress.
Other Women Showed Up
"There are certainly other causes of her emotional distress," Humana lawyer Glenn H. Clark told Judge Robert C. Todd, who is hearing the case without a jury. For example, he said, she had just found out that "there were three other people claiming to be (Thomas Barron's) wives, and other women (were) showing up at the hospital claiming to be his girlfriends."
Add to that the fact that Barron's financial status became rocky after her husband's death, and "the plaintiff could not prove with any certainty that the hospital . . . caused her the emotional distress she claims," Clark said Wednesday.
Barron also contends that she was barred from seeing her husband in the last two days of his life and that Anaheim Memorial Hospital refused to let her decide the fate of his remains.
Barron took her husband to Humana after he suffered a massive heart attack on July, 11, 1984. He was later transferred to Anaheim Memorial, where he died on July 23. Because of the confusion surrounding the patient's marital status, both hospitals appointed his son, David Barron, 38, as family spokesman.
Was Son's Decision
It was David Barron's decision to keep all visitors from the dying man in his last days, and he also made funeral arrangements for his father.
According to Anaheim Memorial lawyer Steven R. Odell, a hospital official "was informed there was chaos in the beginning, but there was never any challenge to the spokesperson. (The official's) conclusion was that if you hear no problems, you assume the system is working."
But Edi M.O. Faal, Gloria Barron's attorney, argued Wednesday that the two hospitals should have done more to decide, for example, what would happen to Barron's remains.
According to the state Health and Safety Code, Faal said, "unless the decedent gave instructions to the contrary, the disposition of remains should be under the control of the surviving spouse."
Todd took the case under submission and indicated that he will rule on it in the near future.