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Pregnant inmate who lost baby after jail staff allegedly stopped at Starbucks en route to hospital reaches $480K settlement

Sandra Quinones said when her water broke in Orange County jail in March 2016, staffers took two hours to reply to her call for help and failed to call her an ambulance.
The Orange County Jail in Santa Ana, Calif., on Dec. 15, 2020.
The Orange County Jail in Santa Ana, Calif., on Dec. 15, 2020.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images file

A former pregnant inmate who claimed her baby died because staffers at a California jail failed to appropriately respond after her water broke and stopped at a Starbucks en route to the hospital, has been approved to receive a $480,000 settlement.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the proposed settlement Tuesday for the delayed transportation of Sandra Quinones to a hospital in 2016, according to minutes of the meeting. NBC News has reached out to the county board for comment. 

Quinones filed a complaint against Orange County, California, in April 2020, alleging wrongful death and infliction of emotional distress in the death of her child. 

Quinones was in Orange County jail and six months pregnant on March 28, 2016, when her water broke, according to the complaint. 

She pushed the call button in her cell with no response for two hours, the complaint said. Staffers at the jail failed to call an ambulance and transported her to the hospital on a “non-emergency basis,” it said.

She accused the defendants of acting with “deliberate indifference” to her medical needs — including stopping at a Starbucks on the way to the hospital, instead of taking her directly there. 

Quinones and her baby were hospitalized and her child died, the complaint said.

The case was dismissed in October 2020 with prejudice upon the grounds that her claims were barred by California’s two-year statute of limitations and she didn’t sufficiently support her claims.

She claimed the incident took place March 2016 but didn’t launch the lawsuit until about three-and-a half years later on September 9, 2019. when she was added to a separate civil action case against the county. 

The case was reinstated in 2021 in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The complaint said Quinones spent a “significant amount of time since the death of child in custody.”

Under California’s Penal Code 352.1 if a person entitled to start legal civil action for deprivation of rights is imprisoned, that time of “disability” is not part of the time limit for the commencement of legal action, if it doesn’t exceed two years.

NBC News has reached out to Quinones’ attorney for comment and the lawyer representing the county in the case. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Quinones’ attorney, Richard Herman, told the Los Angeles Times his client was homeless and had mental health issues but still persisted in the case. 

“She doggedly pursued this case, including all of its ups and downs,” Herman said. “This was a long, hard fight. We’re glad that this reached a successful conclusion.”

 Quinones is now out of custody and living with her mother, he said.