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Woman forced to give birth inside Denver jail cell reaches settlement with city, attorney says

Posted at 5:37 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-17 11:58:07-04

DENVER – A woman who sued the city of Denver and Denver Health last August after she was forced to give birth alone inside a jail cell in July 2018 has reached a settlement with the city and health care provider, her attorney said Friday.

Attorney Mari Newman told Denver7 Friday that Diana Sanchez and her son, now 2 years old, will receive $320,000 from Denver Health and $160,000 from the city of Denver that city council will vote whether to pay on Monday for the ordeal.

“At this time and until City Council votes on the matter, the City is unable to provide any comment or statement to the media about the case,” said Denver Senior Assistant City Attorney Melanie Lewis.

Newman said the boy will receive the money over the course of his childhood. Denver Health also agreed as part of the settlement to annual mandatory training for medical personnel within jail facilities regarding inmates who are pregnant, Newman said Friday.

The lawsuit filed last year claims Sanchez told deputies and nurses at least eight times that she was experiencing contractions on July 31, 2018, and that they only responded by sliding an absorbent pad under the door.

It claimed that deputies and nurses ignored her pleas for help, and that she gave birth alone in her jail cell to the boy after five hours of labor.

Newman said at the time of the suit’s filing that Sanchez was told when she was eventually taken to a hospital that “she was lucky she hadn’t bled to death.”

Denver Health responded to Denver7's request for comment on Monday morning.

The statement from a Denver Health spokeswoman reads: Denver Health provides high-quality medical care to thousands of inmates every year. Our patients are our number one priority and we make every effort to ensure they receive the proper care. As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, we reviewed and revised our health care protocols for pregnant inmates requiring medical attention, with all labor or pregnancy related symptoms treated as an emergent situation. We also updated our staff education materials and ensured all staff were appropriately trained using these. We wish Diana Sanchez and her child well. In relation to Ms. Sanchez and Denver Health, the case is resolved and we consider the matter closed.

The Denver Sheriff Department, which oversees the county jails, said last year that it had changed its policies to be sure pregnant inmates who are in labor are immediately transported to the hospital.

Denver7's Jon Ewing contributed to this report.