published Friday, February 24th, 2012

Chattanooga woman sues prison for $125 million in death of baby

A Chattanooga woman has filed a lawsuit against Corrections Corporation of America, seeking $125 million for the death of her child while she was in Silverdale Detention Center.

Countess Clemons was booked into Silverdale on Sept. 10, 2010, for an assault charge. During a medical screening the next day, jail staff verified that the 18-year-old woman was pregnant, later estimating her baby’s age at about 15 weeks, according to court and jail documents.

Over the next two months and 10 days, Clemons complained about abdominal pain, a brown recluse spider bite, possible infections and an alleged five-hour span of vaginal bleeding, according to court documents.

On Nov. 19, after multiple delays and continual bleeding, jail staff transported her to Erlanger hospital, where she delivered Roland Lebron Clemons, who died shortly after delivery, according to court documents.

Corrections Corporation of America has 30 days to respond to the Circuit Court case, which was filed on Feb. 17.

Neither Clemons’ attorney nor lawyers for Corrections Corporation of America responded Thursday to requests for comments about the case.

In November 2011, Clemons filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging violation of prisoner civil rights and seeking the same amount of money — $25 million in compensation for her pain and suffering and loss of her child and $100 million in punitive damages to prevent Corrections Corporation of America from future actions that could cause a similar outcome for other pregnant inmates.

On Feb. 6, U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier set the trial date for Oct. 21, 2013.

In the Circuit Court complaint, Clemon’s attorney outlines four other incidents in which, he alleges, pregnant women in Corrections Corporation of America custody were harmed.

One local incident involves Rosalyn Bradford, a 23-year-old murder suspect booked into Silverdale in December 1986. She died from undiagnosed pregnancy complications while “left screaming in her cell for 12 hours” before being taken to the hospital on Jan. 31, 1987, the complaint states.

Bradford’s family sued Silverdale in 1988, seeking $100 million. They later settled the case for $100,000, according to Times Free Press archives.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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