The state reached a settlement in a lawsuit brought by an incarcerated woman who delivered her baby in a prison cell toilet in 2018.
Tianna Laboy had yet to be convicted of a felony when she gave birth two years ago in her cell at York Correctional Institution in Niantic. She filed a civil rights complaint in March 2019. Recent legal documents indicate that Laboy’s child has since been diagnosed with autism and is not speaking.
The state attorney general’s office declined to disclose the settlement amount or comment on the case on Tuesday, saying the deal has yet to be signed.
“The parties have reached an agreement to resolve this matter and are working to commemorate this agreement in a document to be signed by the parties,” said Elizabeth Benton, spokesperson for the attorney general’s office. “Until this is done, it would not be appropriate to discuss the terms of the settlement. “
Ken Krayeske and DeVaughn Ward, lawyers for Laboy and his mother, Karine, said their clients “have chosen what they believe is the best option for their family at this time.”
“The reality is that those incarcerated by the state of Connecticut face a Hobbesian choice. The state imposes a lien of about $ 180 per day on the cost of their incarceration, ”the lawyers said. “If litigants like Tianna Laboy exercise their right to a jury trial and reach a verdict, the unstable nature of the law in the Second Circuit currently suggests that whatever she earns can be seized by the state to pay the costs. incarceration. “
Laboy’s attorneys allege denial and delay in medical treatment in their trial, which named former Corrections Department Commissioner Scott Semple, two UConn Health staff, the OB / GYN and the director of York, two prison guards and a medical director. The prosecution included several counts of willful indifference, negligence and false imprisonment. The third charge referred to the birth of the baby behind bars.
Lawyers also painted a grim picture of the healthcare system inside York Correctional, the state’s only women’s prison. The OB / GYN was only available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, “despite serving a population of patients who could go into labor or have some other life-threatening emergency … at any time,” they wrote. in court records.
Earlier records in the case showed Laboy repeatedly told prison staff that she had stomach pain between February 6 and 13, 2018, according to complaints officials. did not take seriously partly because of his placement in a mental health infirmary.
Early in the morning of February 13, Laboy got up to go to the bathroom and delivered her baby in the toilet. Her cellmate helped get the baby out of the toilet and wrapped her in a towel. A correctional officer eventually found her standing over a pool of blood holding a crying baby born about a month premature.
Included in the documents is an internal Correction Department report which identified Michelle Fiala, who spent 14 years at Hartford Hospital as a postpartum nurse and OB / GYN childcare worker, as a nurse in York with the most relevant experience at the time Laboy gave birth. Fiala denied receiving calls for help from prison officers on the day Laboy was in labor, but security cameras showed otherwise. Fiala also claimed she performed an assessment of Laboy, but camera footage shows Laboy had only been in the medical unit for about 10 minutes.
A nerve correction officer told another employee assigned to the medical unit that Laboy had blood clots before she gave birth. According to the report, Fiala picked up the phone and told the officer on the other line, “If there were blood clots, the baby would be coming soon, so there is no way there is. has blood clots “.
Within minutes of this exchange, the report notes, officers discovered Laboy had delivered the baby and called for a medical emergency.
Laboy struck a deal with Fiala last month. The state filed a petition on November 20 noting that the settlement included a confidentiality clause and that it was “essential” that the terms of the deal be disclosed as Fiala was the nurse responsible for Laboy’s treatment that night- the. Further, the state argued that “any proceeds from the settlement are susceptible to numerous privileges claimed by the state of Connecticut to recover, among other things, the costs of the incarceration of the plaintiff Tianna Laboy as well. that health care paid for with public funds for the two complainants.
An exhibit filed in the case shows that the state paid $ 527,336.43 for Laboy’s medical treatment and incarceration from August 15, 2017 to June 5, 2020. Another exhibit shows that the state paid 13,563 , $ 46 for the medical expenses of his child from February 13, 2018. to March 24, 2020.
By law, the state can claim reimbursement of public assistance, alimony, treatment or incarceration costs from the proceeds of a lawsuit.
Ward and Krayeske said systemic problems persist in the state’s prison system.
“Tianna Laboy and her family do not see this settlement as something to celebrate or celebrate because it is not about restorative justice. This is just a resolution of the federal causes of action stemming from the birth of her daughter in a jail cell, ”said Krayeske and Ward. “Unfortunately, the state of Connecticut only pays money, and conditions at York Corrections have not improved for Ms. Laboy or any of the other women incarcerated there. Since 2015, the Department of Correction has self-identified violations of the 1988 consent decree in West v. Manson, including the birth of Baby N. in 2018, but nothing is improving.
Lawyers said Laboy would likely file additional lawsuits to challenge the terms of his incarceration.