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$1.15 Million Settlement After South Carolina Prisoner’s Baby Born, Dies in Toilet

by Ed Lyon

A $1.15 million settlement was reached on January 31, 2020 in the case of a women who gave birth to premature twins, but one died in a prison bathroom.

In 2012, South Carolinian Sinetra Geter was sentenced to two years in prison for violating parole. She discovered she was pregnant just before sentencing. Her pregnancy was confirmed by the for-profit medical providers at Camille Graham Correctional Institution in Columbia. She was upgraded to a high-risk level when medical staff found she was carrying twins. This was Geter’s first pregnancy. She was not knowledgeable about the childbirth regimen. [See PLN, November 2019, p.52]

Six and a half months into her pregnancy, on October 11, 2012 she began having severe abdominal and lower back pains with cramps. Medical staff told her to rest. Guards forced her to go to work instead. She was seen at medical again at 1 and 4:30 p.m. Despite showing physical signs of being in labor, a doctor was never called.

Around 11 p.m. Geter was in severe pain and left her dorm bed for the restroom. Moving slowly, bent over and in obvious pain, neither of the guards observing her offered any help.

Sitting on a toilet, alone and terrified, Geter gave birth to her first twin, a baby girl who fell in the toilet. Other prisoners and finally a guard responded to find a bloody bathroom and Geter screaming for help.

Medical was called and told guards to bring Geter to the infirmary. Guards let other prisoners use a wheelchair to take her there. When they arrived, the two medical staffers were in the pharmacy. One of them called outside Emergency Medical Services for an ambulance to take Geter to the hospital.

The Emergency Medical Technicians arrived and had to deliver Geter’s baby boy, then asked about the first baby. A guard found the baby in the toilet, dead from suffocating within a still-intact amniotic sac.

Attorneys Christopher Mills, Beau Wilder and Robert Phillips represented Geter in a wrongful death and civil rights suit in state court. The defendants were the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDOC), and Medustrial with MedFirst, the for-profit medical providers at Geter’s prison.

The case settled on January 31, 2020. The SCDOC paid out $750,000, Medustrial and MedFirst each paid $200,000 for a total of $1,150,000. After attorney’s fees and litigation costs, Geter will receive $654,567.31. See: Geter, et al. v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, et al., Richland County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2015-CP-40-07561. 

 

Additional sources: therepublic.com, thestate.com

Related legal case

Geter, et al. v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, et al., Richland County Court of Common Pleas