Neil Conrad Spicehandler and John Langan (plaintiff) lived in New York as a monogamous, same-sex couple. In 2000, when same-sex marriage was not yet legal in New York, they entered into a civil union in Vermont, then returned to New York. In 2002, Spicehandler was hit by a car. He was treated for his injuries at St. Vincent’s Hospital of New York (St. Vincent’s) (defendant) but died from his injuries. New York’s wrongful-death statute provided that surviving spouses could be compensated for the loss of expected income caused by a person’s wrongful death. Langan brought a wrongful-death action against St. Vincent’s. St. Vincent’s moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that Langan had no standing as a surviving spouse because he and Spicehandler were not married. The trial court denied the motion. St. Vincent’s appealed the court’s order.