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Texas woman claims she gave birth alone in jail, baby died

By Shelby Lin Erdman and Carma Hassan, CNN
updated 12:55 AM EDT, Sat May 24, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Texas woman says she was forced to give birth alone in jail
  • Nicole Guerrero says her baby died because of negligent birth
  • Lawsuit names Wichita County, the Sheriff, the nurse on duty
  • Complaint details horrific night of pain and suffering

(CNN) -- A Texas woman claims she was forced to give birth alone in jail during a horrific night in solitary confinement nearly two years ago, and that her baby died because of it, according to a federal lawsuit filed this week.

Nicole Guerrero alleges in legal documents that "Wichita County denied (her) access to reasonable medical care ... ignored her obvious signs of labor and constant requests for medical assistance, failed to conduct a physical examination ... when she began to display obvious signs of labor, left (her) unattended in a solitary cell while she was obviously in labor, failed to transport (her) to the hospital for safe delivery, which ultimately caused (her) to deliver her baby alone in the solitary cell, and resulted in (her) suffering severe and likely permanent, physical and psychological injuries."

Wichita County isn't talking about the case.

"We are prohibited (from talking) about pending litigation in Texas because we are representing the county in this case," said Wichita County District Attorney Maureen Shelton.

The lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas, names as defendants Wichita County, the Sheriff's Office, registered nurse LaDonna Anderson, and Correctional Healthcare Management, Inc., Anderson's employer.

Here's what Guerrero says happened, according to court documents:

She was arrested on drug possession charges on June 2, 2012. After visiting her doctor for an infection on June 11, while still in custody, Guerrero says her doctor told her she was 8½ months pregnant. According to the legal complaint, once Guerrero was returned to jail she experienced severe pain and cramping. She said she was checked out by the nurse on duty, identified in court documents as Anderson, late on the night of June 11. Anderson determined at that time Guerrero was not in labor, according to the legal documents.

The complaint then detailed a night spent in solitary confinement, during which Guerrero claims she tried to get medical attention throughout the night and into the early morning hours as her pain worsened, but that she was ignored by Anderson and the guards on duty. Finally, Guerrero said, around 5 a.m. on June 12, a detention officer walking by her cell helped her deliver the baby. The court filing said the baby was not breathing when it was born and that the umbilical cord was wrapped around its neck.

Guerrero says in court papers that no CPR was performed on the baby and that it was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. Guerrero alleged she was still kept in solitary confinement, without medical help, after the baby was taken away.

Guerrero's lawsuit accuses Anderson and Correctional Healthcare Management of medical malpractice.

Her attorney Rick Bunch said Wichita County and Sheriff David Duke violated her due process rights under the 14th Amendment by depriving her of access to reasonable medical care, according to CNN affiliate KFDX.

CNN contacted the Wichita County Sheriff's Office, Anderson and Correctional Healthcare Management several times requesting comment, but did not receive a response.

CNN's Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.

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