The widow of an undocumented Mexican immigrant who died in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed a lawsuit against the federal government for negligence on Tuesday.
Roberto Medina-Martinez, 39, died March 11, 2009, of acute myocarditis, an inflammation of the muscular wall of the heart.
The immigrant, who fell ill while being held at the Stewart Detention Center, was eventually taken to St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, Georgia, but doctors there were unable to save him.
“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,” Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director with the ACLU Foundation of Georgia.
According to the man’s widow, Sara Hernandez-Gonzalez, the lack of medical attention on the part of the authorities was what caused the death of her husband, for which she is seeking an indemnity of $1 million.
Among the failures cited in the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, is the fact that no physician signed the physical exam report that must be filled out for every detainee, a situation that is a violation of the policies of the Department of Homeland Security.
The plaintiffs assert that a proper medical exam would have permitted doctors to diagnose the problem.
The suit was brought on Hernandez-Gonzalez’s behalf by the ACLU Foundation of Georgia, Sutherland and Attorney Brian Spears.