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ARTICLE ID 194117

$________ GROSS – CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION - HOSPITAL NEGLIGENCE – PREGNANT WOMAN FORCED TO DRINK LAXATIVE – FALSE SUSPICION OF DRUG SMUGGLING – PREMATURE BIRTH OF SON – LEARNING DISABILITY CLAIMED – 58% COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE FOUND

Miami-Dade County, FL

The plaintiff was a 39-year-old pregnant woman who returned from Jamaica through the Fort Lauderdale International Airport in February ________. She claimed that she was falsely accused of smuggling drugs by swallowing them, was taken to the hospital, handcuffed to a bed, and forced to drink laxative. The plaintiff brought suit against the U.S. Customs Service, Public Health Trust of Dade d/b/a Jackson Memorial Hospital, and several individuals involved in her detention. The plaintiff asserted claims under the U.S. Constitution and Florida law including: Assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unlawful search and seizure, unlawful invasion of privacy, medical negligence, and deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. The suit against the United States Custom Service was dismissed by a federal court. However, the USA remained as a Fabre defendant on the verdict form. The plaintiff alleged that the contraindicated ingestion of laxative caused the premature birth of her son, and resulted in his permanent learning disabilities.The defendant hospital argued that it was the U.S. Customs officials who caused the plaintiff’s detention, and that any learning disability suffered by the plaintiff’s son was caused by the plaintiff’s failure to receive adequate prenatal care. The plaintiff testified that she was detained by custom officials at the airport and transported to the defendant hospital. The plaintiff, who was 28 weeks pregnant at the time, testified that she was cuffed to the hospital bed and told she would not be permitted to leave the hospital until she drank the laxative, GoLytely. The plaintiff was required to pass three separate drug-free stool samples before she was released. She did so and was released from the hospital after two days. Two weeks later, on February 28, ________, the plaintiff’s infant son was born by emergency Caesarian Section. The plaintiff alleged that the premature birth was caused by cramping and bleeding associated with the ingestion of the laxative. The plaintiff’s expert testified that GoLytely was not recommended for pregnant women. The plaintiff’s son, age 17 at trial, asserted his own claim against the defendant. He was diagnosed with a learning disability associated with his premature birth.The defendant hospital argued that it was the U.S. Customs agents who made the decision to detain the plaintiff. Evidence showed that the U.S. Customs Service and defendant hospital had a standing arrangement, whereby the hospital provided medical services to individuals who the Customs agents suspected of smuggling contraband internally. The Customs Department also maintained an office at the hospital staffed by Customs inspectors. The hospital argued that it was Customs officials who handcuffed the plaintiff to the bed and demanded that she drink the laxative. Since x-rays cannot be performed on pregnant women, the defense argued that the hospital followed the standard Customs protocol.The jury found the defendant hospital 30% negligent, the Fabre defendant U.S. Customs 12% negligent, and the plaintiff 58% comparatively negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages, reduced accordingly. The award included $________ to the plaintiff and $________ to her son.

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