published Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Nashville settles lawsuit with shackled mom

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nashville officials have agreed to a $490,000 settlement with an immigrant in the United States illegally who was shackled to a hospital bed during labor after being arrested during a traffic stop.

The Tennessean reported that the Metro Council approved the agreement Tuesday to end the five-year long lawsuit brought by Juana Vilegas.

The case turned the national spotlight on Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall's enforcement of a federal deportation law, which is no longer enforced in the county.

Villegas was the subject of deportation proceedings when she started to give birth.

Villegas will receive $100,000 from the settlement, with the remainder going to attorneys' fees.

Councilman Charlie Tygard called Villegas' attorneys "vultures" and said he didn't like the idea of settling. Tygard said it's unfortunate "someone who shouldn't be here in the first place" is now costing Nashville taxpayers. Nonetheless, Tygard agreed it was best to settle the case.

A federal judge two years ago ruled that sheriff's officials violated her rights, awarding her and attorneys $1.2 million in damages and legal fees. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in March reversed that decision. The appeals court ordered a retrial, prompting the settlement.

The Sheriff's Office today has a policy against restraining pregnant women. It did not at the time.

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