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Suit by County Inmate Chained During Childbirth Dismissed

December 17, 1985|MYRNA OLIVER | Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge today dismissed a $10-million civil-rights suit against former Sheriff Peter J. Pitchess by a former jail inmate who said she was chained to her bed while giving birth.

Judge Warren Deering said there was no evidence to indicate that Pitchess personally established or exercised any policy of shackling inmates when they were taken from Sybil Brand Institute to County-USC Medical Center to have babies.

The suit had been filed by Fern Dalton in 1981, two years after she delivered her daughter while serving 100 days for revocation of probation. Her suit was prompted by a similar one which caused the Sheriff's Department in 1980 to abandon a policy of chaining women during labor and recuperation.

Pitchess claimed that the policy had been instituted before he became sheriff and never included shackling women during actual delivery. He also said he eliminated all restraints for those giving birth when the first lawsuit brought the problem to his attention.

"I wish I could appeal it in some way, because I think I should get some compensation for what I have gone through," Dalton said after Deering's ruling. "A lot of good came out of it, though. They stopped chaining women. So I am proud that that happened."

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