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

Immigration: State Rep. Joe Pickett, other state lawmakers blast decision to send troops to border
AUSTIN >> Add the chairman of the Texas House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee to the list of those who are blasting Gov. Rick Perry's decision to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the border.
Airway Boulevard gets art upgrades from local artist Anastacio 'Mike' Rivera
Local artist Anastacio "Mike" Rivera on Tuesday cemented his legacy on Airway Boulevard for all El Pasoans and visitors of the city to enjoy for many years.
›› Photos: I-10 Corridor Aesthetic Improvement Project
City Council moves forward on El Paso Streetcar Project
The El Paso Streetcar Project took another step forward Tuesday — but not before discussion derailed into a heated and divisive debate among city representatives.
Send us your summer vacation photos
Where did you go for your summer vacation? Email your vacation photos to webdesk@elpasotimes.com with subject line "Vacation photos." Be sure to include your first and last name and a short description of the photo.
›› Photos: Summer vacation reader photos
City officials moving forward with West Side olympic-sized pool project
City officials moved ahead Tuesday in building an $8 million, Olympic-sized pool on the West Side. The Westside pool will be designed by In*Situ Architecture PLLC for about $732,000. The motion passed unanimously.
Forum looks at improving El Paso food chain
A forum to provide ideas on how people and organizations in the El Paso area can improve local food systems will be held Thursday.
El Paso attorneys seek legal opinion on pension contributions
City attorneys will seek an outside legal opinion regarding the fire and police pension fund contributions.
Investigation continues into deadly shooting in Northeast El Paso
El Paso police homicide detectives continue investigating last week's fatal shooting of a young man in a car at a Northeast intersection.
Trial begins for man accused in El Paso police officer's fatal beating
The trial of a 19-year-old man charged in the fatal beating of an off-duty El Paso police officer in 2012 will begin Wednesday.
Texas ranks 43rd in nation for child welfare, El Paso kids lack access to health care coverage
Texas ranks 43rd in the nation when it comes to indicators of child well being, according to the 25th KIDS COUNT Data Book released Tuesday.
Boxer Antonio Escalante says third DWI won't delay Aug. 15 bout
Antonio Escalante said his August fight in California is still on — despite his third arrest since February for drunk driving.
Blake's Lotaburger opens in East El Paso
Blake's Lotaburger is now available in East El Paso, making it the second El Paso and Texas location.
Triple-A baseball: El Paso Chihuahuas game delayed due to weather
The start of tonight's El Paso Chihuahuas vs. Sacramento River Cats Triple-A baseball game has been delayed due to weather.
Editorial: Gov. Rick Perry promotes ambition over border cities
Texas Gov. Rick Perry's decision to send 1,000 National Guardsmen to the border on an ill-defined mission will waste taxpayer dollars and not address any real problems currently facing the state.
Hobbs kidnapping suspects arrested in West El Paso
A man and woman from Hobbs, N.M., who were suspected in a kidnapping were arrested by U.S. Marshals deputies during a Tuesday morning raid at a home in West El Paso.
advertisement
KFOX14 El Paso - Links Mentioned Get the latest web resources mentioned on KFOX14 News!
advertisement