ACLU, Mar. 27, 2012: "The ACLU Foundation of Georgia, Sutherland, and Attorney Brian Spears
filed a lawsuit today in US District Court for the Middle District of
Georgia on behalf of Sara Hernandez-Gonzalez, the widow of Roberto
Medina-Martinez against the US Government for its negligence which led
to the death of Mr. Medina. Mr. Medina was a 39 year-old man from
Mexico who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at
the Stewart Detention Center. Mr. Medina died while in ICE custody at
St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, Georgia on March 11, 2009, from acute
myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that is usually caused
by a viral infection and is often treatable.
“The records obtained by the ACLU show that Roberto Medina-Martinez
was the victim of systemic negligence on the part of the medical staff
at the Stewart Detention Center resulting in his unnecessary death,”
said Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project
Director with the ACLU Foundation of Georgia.
The Government’s negligence included the staff’s failure to have
medical examinations signed by a physician in violation of Department of
Homeland Security’s Division of Immigration Health Services (DIHS)
policy and the failure to note Mr. Medina’s chest x-ray as abnormal.
The Government’s negligence also included the pervasive failure on the
part of the lead physician to review health records, the proper review
of which combined with appropriate follow-up could have prevented Mr.
This failure was not an aberration. An investigation conducted
following Mr. Medina’s death revealed that the physician was
systematically failing to conduct the required review of the medical
examination information, thereby jeopardizing the health of the entire
detention center population.
“With this lawsuit, we take the next step to seek justice for the
widow and family of Roberto Medina-Martinez,” said Attorney Brian
Spears. “We contend that Mr. Medina’s death could have been prevented
and that he died as a result of systematic neglect by certain medical
professionals at the Stewart Detention Center.”
The lawsuit against the US Government charges that negligent acts and
omissions of the Government or its agents caused the death of Mr.
Medina and asks the court to award damages to Mr. Medina’s widow for his
Attorneys on the case include J. Dean Marshall and Benjamin Morgan of
Sutherland; Chara Fisher Jackson and Shahshahani of the ACLU Foundation
of Georgia; and Spears.
The complaint can be viewed at: http://www.acluga.org/Hernandez-Gonzalez-vs-US-Complaint.PDF "