Pregnant Inmate Who Lost Baby After Starbucks Stop Before Hospital Gets $480K Settlement Offer from County

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A woman formerly incarcerated in Orange County, California, will receive $480,000 in a settlement after she alleged that county employees waited two hours to take her to a hospital after her water broke while pregnant in jail in March 2016 – and even stopped at a Starbucks on the way.

Last Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the payment to Sandra Quinones to settle the federal civil rights lawsuit she filed against the county after alleging negligent treatment ultimately led to her losing the pregnancy, according to The New York Times.

Sandra Quinones, who was 28 at the time, was six months pregnant when she went into labor during a 70-day jail sentence for possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance for sales, according to the Times, which cited the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Quinones repeatedly pressed a button in her cell requesting help for two hours before anyone responded, the paper reported, citing the complaint.

Orange County Womens Central Jail in the Civic Center Plaza area of Downtown.
Orange County Womens Central Jail in the Civic Center Plaza area of Downtown.

Alamy

Quinones' lawyer, Richard P. Herman, wrote in the April 2020 complaint that the county employees decided not to call an ambulance and took her to the hospital on a "nonemergency basis," leaving her in the back of a van while they stopped at a Starbucks on the way, according to the Times. It is unclear how long the county employees were at the cafe before they ultimately brought Quinones to the Globe Medical Center in Anaheim.

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While the county's Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the agreement, Quinones must formally accept the settlement before it is finalized, according to the Orange County Register.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department had no comment.

"That's a very good result for someone badly treated in the jail," Herman told the Register last Wednesday. "This poor woman, she's in jail having a miscarriage and, instead of calling an ambulance, they take her to the hospital in a patrol car and the cops stop at Starbucks while she's bleeding."

Starbucks coffee business logo on outside wall of one of their stores.
Starbucks coffee business logo on outside wall of one of their stores.

Don & Melinda Crawford/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty

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Herman also told the Register that Quinones, now 34, is homeless and mentally ill, while the Times reported that the lawsuit says she has been living on the streets and in county custody intermittently since the incident. She is currently living with her mother, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Quinones' "homelessness stems from her inability to function and take care of her affairs after the incident as a result of the severe emotional harm in combination with her mental impairments," Herman wrote in the lawsuit, according to the outlet.

In October 2020, a district court judge dismissed the case after agreeing with Orange County that the statute of limitations had passed, but an appeals court reversed the decision in December 2021 and sent the case back to the district court, the newspaper reported.

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Quinones' case was originally part of a larger class-action lawsuit brought by several inmates who alleged mistreatment in Orange County jails, according to the Register.

Her case was split off from the larger suit, which also included a second woman who had been pregnant and alleged she was denied proper medical care by jail staff and subsequently lost her baby in childbirth. In April 2021, Orange County approved a $1.5 million settlement for that inmate, according to the Register.