LOS ANGELES – A 26-year-old woman who alleges she contracted a skin disease and was exposed to insecticide while an inmate at the Century Regional Detention Facility is suing Los Angeles County.
Valerie Arismendez‘s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges civil rights violations, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The complaint was filed Aug. 9 and seeks unspecified damages. A representative for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which oversees the county’s jails, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Arismendez was arrested in October 2018 and was ordered to serve the remainder of her time at the CRDF after being found in violation of her probation, according to the suit, which does not identify the offense for which she was serving time.
In June, Arismendez and another inmate were diagnosed with a skin condition known as scabies, the suit states. Neither had the malady before they were housed at the facility, according to the suit.
The two were given a small amount of topical cream to cover their entire bodies and were denied fresh blankets, limiting the effectiveness of the cream, the suit states.
The two were later instructed by deputies to put their blankets in plastic bags, but were told there were no replacements available, forcing them to sleep while cold, the suit states.
Arismendez and the other inmate were allowed to shower on June 19, but the towels they were given to dry off were previously used to clean up the jail floors, the suit states. The pair were told no laundered towels were available, the suit states.
The two inmates continued to itch from the scabies and were denied medical treatment for the next three days, the suit states. A deputy told the other inmate that the only way she could get medical help was if “you’re on a gurney,” the suit states.
Anxious to get the proper medical attention, the other inmate told a deputy she was having chest pains, the suit states.
“Although this complaint was false, it was made in a desperate bid to obtain necessary medical care…,” the suit states.
The deputy begrudgingly allowed the inmate to get medical care and Arismendez also was given attention, the suit states. Both were placed under quarantine and a member of the medical staff yelled at the deputy for allegedly blocking the two inmates from being given care sooner so that their skin condition would not spread to other inmates and the jail staff, the suit states.
While quarantined, Arismendez and the other inmate were ordered to be put in a part of the jail known as “the hole,” the suit states. However they were left in their cell and had to deal with a clogged toilet that the staff allowed to overflow and cause filthy conditions, the suit states. Arismendez later slipped in her cell and was unable to stand up after hurting her ankle, the suit states. She asked for medical attention, but her request was ignored by deputies, the suit states.
A jail trustee later sprayed insecticide in the cell, hitting Arismendez and her fellow inmate on their feet and causing “a cloudy mist of … fumes throughout the cell,” the suit states.
Arismendez’s nose began bleeding and she lost consciousness, the suit states. She was not given immediate medical care, the suit states. The fumes spread and the other inmate also lost consciousness in an outdoor recreation area, the suit states.
When Arismendez was finally given medical attention, a deputy falsely told those attending to her that the plaintiff fell and hurt her hip and had gotten into a fight with the other inmate, all in order to cover up the deputy’s alleged misconduct, the suit states.
Arismendez was later transported to and treated at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, then returned to the jail, the suit states. The deputy later gave what Arismendez believed was a hollow apology for her actions, the suit states.
An attorney for Arismendez sent a letter to Los Angeles County officials asking that evidence regarding the insecticide incident be preserved, the suit states.
In July, deputies conducted a raid at the jail, the suit states. A deputy told Arismendez that the behavior of one inmate could “ruin it for others, just like one bad cop ruins it for the rest of us,” the suit states. Arismendez believed the comment was directed at her, the suit states.
Arismendez and the other inmate were denied access to programming and other privileges for the next two days, which they believe was done in retaliation for hiring a lawyer to pursue their claims, according to the suit.