A grandmother who was forced to spend more than 10-hours inside an all-male jail facility in Florida has had her lawsuit against the employees at the jail reinstated by a federal appeals court, according to reports.
Fior Pichardo de Veloz, 55, was traveling to Miami from the Dominican Republic to witness the birth of her grandchild when she was arrested on an outstanding drug charge she was unaware of, in Nov. of 2013.
At first, officers didn't seem to be in any dispute about Pichardo's gender. The arresting officer listed her gender as female, and she was initially processed into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center as a woman. After Pichardo was strip-searched by an officer making sure she wasn't hiding any contraband on her body, the 55-year-old grandmother was taken to a medical unit to be examined, due to her history of high blood pressure.
The officer would later testify that she "did not notice anything abnormal" about Pichardo.
During her examination, a nurse noted that Pichardo was taking hormone pills (something commonly done by women in their fifties experiencing menopause), and added a note to her file: "Transgender, male parts, female tendencies."
Staff at the jail then transferred Pichardo to the all-male Metro West Detention Center where she spent nearly 10 hours in a holding cell surrounded by "leering inmates" the Miami Herald reported.
Pichardo filed a lawsuit against the jail, saying she had been subjected to "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of her Constitional rights. However, a federal judge threw it out, saying that jail staffers were protected from a trial for negligence.
On Nov. 21, a federal appeals court reinstated Pichardo's lawsuit against the jail doctor and nurse, ruling that the conduct by the nurse and doctor while examining the woman amounted to "deliberate indifference."
“Every reasonable prison officer and medical personnel would have known that wrongfully misclassifying a biological female as a male inmate and placing that female in the male population of a detention facility was unlawful,” Judge Frank Hull wrote in the unanimous opinion.
The lawsuit by Pichardo against Dr. Fredesvindo Rodriguez-Garcia and nurse Fatu Kamara Harris will now be allowed to proceed.
Photo: Miami-Dade Corrections