WICHITA COUNTY, Texas - A woman held on drug charges in the Wichita County Jail in 2012 filed a suit against Wichita County and other entities for allowing her to deliver her baby in solitary confinement without help, resulting in the infant’s death.
The plaintiff, Nicole Guerrero, is suing Wichita County, Sheriff David Duke, Correctional Healthcare Management, Inc. and Ladonna Anderson for breaching the duty of care owed to her, and for medical malpractice.
Anderson is a registered nurse who was employed by the Wichita County Jail through CHM. According to the lawsuit, Guerrero was arrested and booked into the Wichita County Jail on June 2, 2012 for a drug possession charge. She was pregnant at the time.
She went to a doctor’s appointment on June 11, 2012, heard the baby’s heartbeat and was told she was 34 weeks pregnant and had no complications. She was prescribed one medication and one supplement by the doctor.
The suit claims about 6:30 p.m. the same day, Guerrero started experiencing labor-like symptoms, but Anderson listened to the baby’s heartbeat and sent Guerrero back to her cell, the lawsuit states.
Approximately 11 p.m. Guerrero started feeling intensified labor-like symptoms, the suit claims.
“Recognizing that something was wrong, Plaintiff pushed the medical emergency button, seeking assistance for her worsening condition. Plaintiff continued to push the medical emergency button, but her requests for help were ignored until 3:30 a.m.,” the lawsuit alleges.
According to the lawsuit, around 3:30 a.m. detention officers took Guerrero to the nurse station, but she was not examined, and Anderson told Guerrero the complications were probably from the prescription medication she was given by the doctor.
“Subsequently, detention officers escorted Plaintiff to the “cage” and she was given a mat to lay on. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff’s pain worsened, and she began to experience intense pressure ... in obvious distress, began to moan, scream and cry,” the suit claims. “She also attempted to talk herself through this ordeal, since she was not receiving any medical assistance.”
The lawsuit claims Anderson told Guerrero she contacted her doctor, and told her the doctor said she was fine. Anderson ignored Guerrero’s screams for help at 5 a.m. when the nurse was walking by the solitary cell, the suit claims.
The lawsuit alleges Guerrero felt herself and could feel the baby’s head starting to emerge and a detention officer walking by her cell helped her deliver her daughter, who was “dark purple, and had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck.”
According to the suit, several minutes later, Anderson entered the “cage” and held the baby, patting its back until emergency medical staff arrived 20 minutes later.
“Just to let you know, I had to unwrap the cord from the baby’s neck, and as long as we don’t cut the cord, she’s gonna have some bit of oxygen to help her,” the lawsuit quotes Anderson as saying. “Defendant Anderson then proceeded to wrap the baby in Plaintiff’s inmate towel, but did not make any attempt to revive her by CPR or any other method, although the baby was unresponsive and had a dark purple complexion.”
Emergency medical technicians arrived and took both Guerrero and the baby to the hospital. The infant was pronounced dead on June 12, 2012 at 6:30 a.m. at United Regional Healthcare Systems, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims Guerrero’s 14th Amendment rights of access to reasonable medical care were violated by the listed defendants and alleges Anderson ignored her “obvious signs of labor and constant requests for medical assistance ... unattended in a solitary cell while she was obviously in labor.”
The lawsuit claims Guerrero had to deliver her baby alone and the incident resulted in severe and likely permanent physical and psychological damages. Guerrero is seeking the maximum amount authorized by law for compensatory and punitive damages and requested a jury trial for the civil suit.
Guerrero is currently serving three sentences in state jail for two drug possession charges and a theft charge. Her projected release date is at the end of July, but a date has not been scheduled, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Anderson’s registered nursing license expired Jan. 31, 2012, and its status is listed as delinquent, according to Publicdata.com. Anderson earned her license in 1997, and she has not received any disciplinary action, according to publicdata.com and the Texas Board of Nursing.