LITTLE ROCK (CN) - A newborn baby died because an Arkansas sheriff had ordered jail guards not to call for an ambulance "until they saw blood on the floor," the grieving mother claims in court.
Stephanie Hernandez sued Pulaski County Sheriff Charles Holladay, Medical Director Carl Johnson, and Randy Morgan, a jail administrator, in Pulaski County Court.
She claims guards ignored her pleas for medical assistance and she finally gave birth to a premature baby inside an ambulance.
Hernandez claims the policy in the county jail is "the motivating force behind the deprivation of constitutional rights and deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of pregnant inmates."
She says this behavior includes "refusal to call ambulances, call physicians, or get pregnant women who are in labor or having miscarriages to the hospital. The behavior includes denial of prenatal vitamins, denial of extra meals, denial of timely access to a doctor or examinations, failure to make efforts to delay onset of premature labor, and failure to make efforts at reviving a baby. The behavior
Includes putting the corpses of babies in bio-waste bags, dropping their corpses on the floor and either losing them or destroying them."
Hernandez says in the 11-page complaint: "Plaintiff was far advanced in her pregnancy when first incarcerated. She informed defendant of this during the intake process, and it was physically obvious.
"Plaintiff went into labor.
"Plaintiff told multiple guards and nurses she was in labor. She was ignored repeatedly when she came and requested to go to the hospital. She was told that the policy was that they would not call an ambulance until they saw blood on the floor.
"A physician was not called.
"An ambulance was not called.
"No arrangements were made for Hernandez's comfort while undergoing labor, to transport her to the hospital, or for her to be attended by medical personnel. ...
"An ambulance was finally called, and plaintiff had her baby inside the ambulance. This action subjected plaintiff to extreme emotional distress, as well as physical pain."
Hernandez claims her treatment was not an isolated incident but was part of a custom or practice of denying prenatal care to pregnant woman, and that this unconstitutional deprivation of rights "was made known to the jail through previous claims and/or incidents wherein pregnant inmates were denied proper medical care while housed at the jail. The behavior includes denial of prenatal vitamins, denial of extra meals, denial of timely access to a doctor or examinations, failure to make efforts to delay onset of premature labor, and failure to make efforts at reviving a baby."
Hernandez seeks compensatory and punitive damages for constitutional and civil rights violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She is represented by Lucien Gillham with Sutter & Gillham of Benton.