Miriam Mendiola-Martinez update: MCSO settles suit over woman restrained during labor

Posted at 3:54 PM, Nov 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-19 21:24:10-05

A lawyer for the woman who sued the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office over restraints placed on her while she gave birth says a judge has agreed to a settlement between the two sides.

Attorney Joy Bertrand says U.S Magistrate Judge David Duncan agreed to the terms, which includes $200,000 in compensation and changes to policies at the sheriff's office and training.

Mendiola-Martinez sued the sheriff's office after she was placed in restraints during delivery and after the birth of her son at a hospital in 2009.

Mendiola-Martinez was arrested in October 2009 on a felony identification-theft charge. She is a citizen of Mexico who wasn't authorized to be in the United States and was accused of working under another person's name. Eventually, she pleaded guilty to solicitation to commit forgery, was given credit for 62 days that she had already served in jail and was put on probation.

A day before giving birth, Mendiola-Martinez was handcuffed in an ambulance as she was brought to a medical center after she started experiencing contractions.

Mendiola-Martinez wasn't restrained during delivery, which was done by caesarian section. But after giving birth, she was brought to a recovery room and had to wear a leg restraint with a chain attached to it.

She also contended that two days after giving birth, she was bound at her hands and ankles and forced to walk through the hospital where she was chained to other prisoners for transport back to jail.

Bertrand says a part of the settlement requires all detention officers to receive at least 30 minutes of training on the new policy, which details the dangers of placing pregnant women in restraints. An expert from Mendiola-Martinez's side is allowed to provide input on the training materials, Bertrand said.

A message seeking comment from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was referred attorney Michele Iafrate. An email was not immediately returned Saturday afternoon.

The Arizona Legislature passed a law in 2012 that says jail officers can't use restraints on inmates who are in labor or going through postpartum recovery, unless the medical staff requests them or officers determine that the prisoner presents a problem.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.