Mother who gave birth in Denver jail, son will receive $480K in settlements

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) — A woman who was forced to give birth in the Denver County Jail on Smith Road will split nearly $500,000 with her young son under the terms of two lawsuit settlements.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers originally broke the story of Diana Sanchez giving birth alone in a jail cell in August 2018. 

Internal Denver Sheriff Department documents obtained by FOX31 showed that on July 31, 2018, Sanchez had begged deputies and jail nurses for medical help for hours. Yet even after her water broke, no one called an ambulance until after her son Jordan was born.

Now, Denver Health Medical Center has agreed to pay Sanchez and her son Jordan $320,000 to dismiss Sanchez’s lawsuit. The City and County of Denver will pay $160,000.

Denver Health employed the nurses at the jail, whose conduct was considered more culpable than the city-employed deputies, which is why the City of Denver is paying a smaller portion of the settlement.

“It’s simply not acceptable in a civilized society for a woman to be forced to give birth without any medical attention at all in jail,” said Mari Newman, a civil rights attorney who represents Sanchez and her son Jordan Sanchez-Meraz, who just turned 2 years old.

Under the terms of the agreement with Denver Health, Jordan Sanchez-Meraz will get periodic payments as he ages, starting at age 7 and continuing until he turns 21.

“One of the things that was most important to Diana was to make sure that her son’s life was going to be better and so she has gone through every effort to make sure that he is going to be set, he is going to be taken care of,” said Newman.

Sanchez was not available for comment on the settlement terms but just weeks after her son was born, she told the Problem Solvers in the only interview she’s ever given, about having to give birth without any medical help.

 “It was so inhumane how the medical team, the staff acted towards me. It’s like they didn’t care,” said Sanchez before adding, “I felt helpless. Nobody was helping me. There was so many people and nobody lifted a finger, basically.”

As part of the settlement, Newman said Denver Health has promised to provide better health care to pregnant inmates.

“Diana is very, very happy that one of the components of the settlement is annual training for every Denver Health nurse who works in the context of a jail to make sure no one else ever has to suffer the same indignities that she did,” Newman said.

A Denver Health Spokeswoman emailed the following statement to FOX31:

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.

Denver City Council is expected to formally approve its $160,000 portion of the settlement at an upcoming meeting.

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