Pregnant Inmate's Baby Died After Deputies Stopped at Starbucks

After more than 6 years, Orange County has settled with former inmate for $480K
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2022 3:15 PM CDT
Pregnant Inmate Lost Baby After Deputies Stopped for Coffee on Way to Hospital
File image shows the sign at a Starbucks location. The Orange County Board of Supervisors agreed to a $480,000 settlement for a former inmate who lost her baby when deputies were slow to respond while she was in labor. According to a lawsuit, they stopped at a Starbucks on the way to the hospital.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last week to award $480,000 to a former jail inmate who claimed she lost her baby after staff failed to get her to the hospital on time. According to USA Today, the episode occurred in March of 2016, when Sandra Quinones was six months pregnant. She pressed the distress call button in her cell after her water broke, but staff did not respond for two hours, according to a lawsuit filed on her behalf. Per the Los Angeles Times, deputies chose not to call an ambulance and instead loaded Quinones into a prison van, where she was forced to wait—bleeding and in labor—when deputies stopped at Starbucks on the way to the hospital, where her baby later died.

County officials confirmed the settlement but declined further comment to news outlets, as did the police. Richard Herman, an attorney for Quinones, told the LA Times, "The Orange County jail is capable of sinking to the lowest depths. Unfortunately this is not the only occasion." As the New York Times reports, Quinones first filed suit in 2020, but it was tossed out of federal court after county lawyers argued that she had exceeded a two-year statute of limitations for such complaints. That decision was later reversed on appeal based on a section of California law that essentially says the clock on the statute of limitations doesn’t start for incarcerated people until they’re released from custody, per NBC News.

Quinones was originally arrested for possession of controlled substances. She "spent significant time" in jail after the miscarriage, resulting in PTSD and severe depression, according to Herman, who also described her as homeless and "dysfunctional" since her release. Nicholas Kohan, another lawyer for Quinones, said his client "will never forget how she was treated that day and no amount of money will ever make her whole," but he hopes other pregnant women in Orange County lockup will receive better treatment as a result of the case. (More Orange County Corrections Dept stories.)

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