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$9.6 Million Awarded for Child Death in Illinois Jail

On October 19, 2000 a Cook County jury in Chicago, Illinois awarded $9.6 million to the estate of Joyce Hughes, who died from injuries she sustained after she was born in a cell in the Cook County Jail near Chicago on October 29, 1996.

Katrina Taylor, Joyce's mother, was nine months pregnant in October of 1996 when she was arrested for possession of heroin and incarcerated in the Cook County Jail.

On both October 28th and 29th, 1996 Taylor was examined by Cermak Health Services, a private company that provides health care for prisoners in the Cook County Jail.

Taylor complained of severe cramps and insisted she was in labor. After each medical visit, however, Taylor was returned to her cell without a gynecological exam. Cermak doctors did not conduct such an exam, contending that they believed Taylor's cramps were drug withdrawal symptoms.

A few minutes after Taylor returned to her cell following the October 29th visit to Cermak she gave birth to Joyce. During delivery Joyce fell about two feet, hitting her head on the concrete floor.

Joyce was transferred to the Cook County Hospital where she died on October 31, 1996 as a result of injuries she sustained in the fall.

Attorney Jay Paul Deratany represented Joyce's estate in a state court action seeking to hold Cook County and Cermak responsible for Joyce's death. A jury found the defendants liable and awarded Joyce's estate $9.6 million.

"The way they treated the woman and her baby was horrible" Deratany said. "No woman should be treated like that."

Cermak has vowed to appeal the verdict. See: La Salle Hank As Admin. of Estate Of Joyce Hughes, Deceased v. County of Cook, Case No. 97L12473.

Source: Chicago Tribune

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Related legal case

La Salle Hank as Administrator v. County of Cook