Update: Woman involved in CBP cavity search case receives $1.1 million settlement

Updated: Monday, July 7 2014, 04:23 PM MDT
Update: Woman involved in CBP cavity search case receives $1.1 million settlement story image

By: Jesse Martinez
EL PASO, Texas - The University Medical Center of El Paso and emergency room physicians paid a New Mexico Woman over a controversial cavity search incident.

As KFOX14 previously reported, the woman claimed to have been illegally cavity-searched at a hospital while in the custody of Customs and Border Protection officers.

The settlement awarded the 54-year-old woman $1.1 million for the cavity searches, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and Texas.

According to the settlement, $500,000 will be paid by Texas Tech University on behalf of the Texas Tech Defendants, $475,000 will be paid on behalf of the Hospital District Defendants by its insurance carrier and $125,000 will be paid by the El Paso County Hospital District.

"We are very pleased that the hospital has taken steps to alleviate the great wrong done to our client," said ACLU of New Mexico cooperating attorney Laura Schauer Ives. "We hope this settlement will stand as a powerful reminder to other doctors and medical facilities that they have the right and responsibility to refuse to carry out unjustified, unnecessary, demeaning searches on behalf of law enforcement."

The following statement was released by James N. Valenti, president and CEO of UMC:

"The expectation we have of everyone who works at University Medical Center is that every patient will be treated with respect and dignity. In fact, that expectation is among our organization's core values. UMC’s settlement of this case was not intended to 'make it go away.' It was meant to bring closure for the plaintiff and to the issues that she alleged and to ensure our stakeholders that we have taken steps to tighten our policies and reinforce them with staff. We also intend to make sure that area law enforcement agencies understand that UMC's only concern when patients are brought to us in their custody is patient care. We do not see those patients as prisoners. We are here solely to tend to their needs and to do our best to ensure that they have a good outcome.”

The ACLU was suing the hospital district and several CBP officers on behalf of a New Mexico woman after she said she was made to feel like an animal.

The lawsuit alleged the woman was crossing the Bridge of the Americas in December 2012 when CBP officers suspected she had drugs on her.

She was later taken to University Medical Center where she claims doctors and the officers anally and vaginally probed her for hours.

No drugs were found and she was left with a $5,000 hospital bill.

Officials said the hospital agreed to review revisions it recently made to its internal policies governing law enforcement searches with ACLU lawyers.

"Despite the trauma and humiliation endured by our client, she had the courage to step forward," said Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director for the ACLU of Texas. "Because of her, the hospital has changed its policy to prevent this from happening to others. Now we hope that CBP will also take responsibility and stop subjecting innocent people to unconstitutional and abusive searches."

KFOX14 previously reported that UMC officials said they took care of the woman's $5,000 bill and are updating their system so that from now on, anyone in the custody of law enforcement who comes in for a cavity search will never have to foot that bill.

According to court documents, on May 1, the court was notified that the woman settled with the hospital. However, it was not settled with several CBP officers.

The document states two unknown CBP supervisor agents, and two other agents identified as Portillo and Herrera, were not part of the settlement.

The woman's claims against the officers remains pending in federal court, officials said.

Update: Woman involved in CBP cavity search case receives $1.1 million settlement
comments powered by Disqus

El Paso Times Headlines

Friday morning storm causes 30 accidents, rain to dissipate today
The dark clouds that accompanied Friday morning's rainstorm are not expected to stick around through the weekend, but temperatures may be a little cooler today.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry to seek dismissal of criminal charges
AUSTIN - A lawyer for Gov. Rick Perry on Friday said he would seek to have two felony counts against the governor thrown out on constitutional grounds.
Friday Night Fights: Las Cruces boxer Austin Trout earns decision win against Australia's Dawson
Las Cruces junior middleweight Austin Trout is back in the win column but he had to come off the canvas twice to earn the victory.
Immigration dilemma: Children separated from families an issue on US-Mexico border
About 50 representatives of government agencies and organizations from Mexico and the United States on Friday exchanged ideas to improve the way children are reunited with their deported parents.
Study: Nearly 100,000 in El Paso County rely on food banks
One in eight people in El Paso County turn to food pantries and meal-service programs to feed their families, a recently published study found.
Bowie High Principal Jesus Teran resigns, takes job at Socorro High
Bowie High School Principal Jesus "Jesse" Teran, who was chosen to reinstate academic integrity to the school after a cheating scandal that bloodied the district's image, resigned Thursday to become principal of Socorro High School.
Testimony in trial set for man charged in series of rapes in Manhattan Heights
A jury was selected Friday to hear the case of a man charged with a series of sexual assaults last year in the Manhattan Heights neighborhood of El Paso.
Mexico creates special economic-crime force
MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico launched a special 5,000-strong police force Friday to combat industrial, farm and business crime that has extended throughout the country's economy, strangling commerce in some regions.
Listen to El Paso Times' high school sports podcast
Listen to this week's high school sports podcast by El Paso Times sports reporters Felix Chavez and Mark Rudi.
UTEP professors recognized with Outstanding Teaching Award by UT System regents
Five University of Texas at El Paso faculty members have received the Outstanding Teaching Award from the University of Texas System Board of Regents.
Obama offers new accommodations on birth control
WASHINGTON (AP) - Seeking to quell a politically charged controversy, the Obama administration announced new measures Friday to allow religious nonprofits and some companies to opt out of paying for birth control for female employees while still ensuring those employees have access to contraception.
Tiempo calendar: Damon Wayans, Discover the Dinosaurs, "The Music of Queen"

Damon Wayans: The stand-up comedian, actor and producer will take the stage at 8 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Abraham Chavez Theatre, Downtown. $25, $45, $58. Plaza Theatre Box Office, 231-1100, elpasolive.com, elpasoboxoffice.com, Ticketmaster outlets, 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com.

Lawsuit filed over immigrants' access to lawyers at Artesia detention center
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A coalition of lawyers has filed a lawsuit against federal immigration authorities, claiming detainees at a New Mexico detention center aren't getting proper legal representation.
Share your funny first day of school stories, photos and videos
Parents, you have homework. The majority of students in the region go back to school on Aug. 25 and we want you to share your #firstdayfunny stories with us.
Tiempo roundup: Damon Wayans, Blue Man tickets, Movie Capsules
Tiempo roundup: Damon Wayans, Blue Man tickets, Movie Capsules
KFOX14 El Paso - Links Mentioned Get the latest web resources mentioned on KFOX14 News!