Willkie Client Awarded Damages in Transgender Healthcare Suit

September 29, 2022

On September 27, a federal jury in Macon, Georgia found that Willkie client Sgt. Anna Lange, a transgender woman and deputy sheriff in Houston County, Georgia, had suffered mental and emotional harm as a result of her employer’s denial of healthcare coverage for her gender-affirming surgery in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and awarded Sgt. Lange $60,000 in compensatory damages.

The jury verdict followed a major summary judgment win for Sgt. Lange in June, when the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia held that defendants Houston County, Georgia and Sheriff Cullen Talton had violated Title VII by maintaining a self-funded health insurance plan that excluded coverage for medically-necessary gender-affirming surgery and related treatments. Based on this exclusion, Houston County’s health plan administrator denied Sgt. Lange’s request for approval of gender-affirming surgery in November 2018. Willkie filed the lawsuit, Lange v. Houston County, GA, in 2019, in partnership with the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, law firm Cooper, Barton & Cooper in Macon, Georgia, and Professor Kevin Barry of the Quinnipiac University School of Law Legal Clinic in North Haven, Connecticut.

The Willkie team was led by partner Wesley Powell, counsel Jill Grant and associate Catherine Fata.