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Arnold & Porter Files Claim Against ICE, CBP, DHS, HHS on Behalf of Mother Whose Baby Girl Died After Medical Mistreatment in Custody

November 27, 2018

WASHINGTON – The young mother of a baby girl who died after falling gravely ill and was neglected by medical staff while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) custody filed a notice of claim today against the U.S. government, which operates the family detention facility in Dilley, TX, where Yazmin Juárez and her daughter Mariee were held earlier this year.

Today's notice was filed by Arnold & Porter on behalf of Yazmin Juárez with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Patrol and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

"The U.S. government had a duty to provide this little girl with safe, sanitary living conditions and proper medical care but they failed to do that resulting in tragic consequences. Mariee entered Dilley a healthy baby girl and 20 days later was discharged a gravely ill child with a life-threatening respiratory infection," said R. Stanton Jones, partner at Arnold & Porter. "Mariee died just months before her second birthday because ICE and others charged with her medical care neglected to provide the most basic standard of care as her condition rapidly deteriorated and her mother Yazmin pleaded for help. The U.S. government must take action immediately to ensure nothing like this ever happens again."

Yazmin's legal team at Arnold & Porter, who are handling this matter on a pro bono basis, are pursuing litigation against ICE and others responsible for Mariee's tragic and excruciatingly painful death which occurred six weeks after she was discharged from Dilley. Arnold & Porter has already filed a claim against the City of Eloy, AZ, which served as the federal government's prime contractor operating the Dilley facility when Mariee and her mother were held there in March. After receiving the claim, the Eloy City Council voted to sever ties with ICE as to the facility.

Within a week of entering Dilley, Mariee was running a 104-degree fever while suffering from a cough, congestion, diarrhea and vomiting. The medical staff who discharged her weeks later noted none of these conditions and cleared her for travel without viewing Mariee, conducting any kind of examination, or taking her vital signs. After being released, Mariee spent six weeks at New Jersey and Philadelphia hospitals where doctors and specialists tried, to no avail, to save Mariee as her lungs collapsed from a respiratory infection.

Yazmin is seeking $60 million from the U.S. government in wrongful death claims. The litigation is also expected to involve other defendants and claims.

"After reviewing the medical records from Mariee's treatment at the Dilley detention facility, it is clear that ICE medical staff failed to meet the most basic standard of care and engaged in some troubling practices such as providing pediatric care over a long period of time by non-physicians without supervision," said Dr. Benard Dreyer, the former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a pediatrician at New York University Langone Health. "If signs of persistent and severe illness are present in a young child, the standard of care is to seek emergency care. ICE staff did not seek emergency care for Mariee, nor did they arrange for intravenous antibiotics when Mariee was unable to keep oral antibiotics down. These are just a few of the alarming examples of how ICE medical staff failed to provide proper medical treatment to this little girl."

The notice of claim filed with the U.S. government is available here. The notice of claim filed in August with the City of Eloy is available here.

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