MIAMI, Sept. 13, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Lawyers for Fior Pichardo de Veloz, the woman who was wrongly designated male by the Miami-Dade Corrections Department and incarcerated with male inmates who taunted her for more than ten hours, today filed a federal lawsuit alleging violations of Mrs. Pichardo's civil and constitutional rights and negligence.
On November 4, 2013, Mrs. Pichardo was arrested at Miami International Airport on an old warrant stemming from a decades old federal drug charge that was subsequently dismissed. Upon arrest, Mrs. Pichardo was correctly booked as a female. However, according to Corrections Department documents, after a medical evaluation, the jail staff determined that Mrs. Pichardo exhibited "non-traditional male characteristics" that required further examination. Mrs. Pichardo stated that jail staff asked her if she changed her sex and she repeatedly told them no -- that she was female, a married woman and was the mother of three children.
According to Corrections records, additional facility medical staff examined Mrs. Pichardo and then reclassified her as male. Mrs. Pichardo, age 50 at the time, who was wearing make-up and has an unquestioningly feminine appearance, was placed in an open cell with 40 male inmates at the Metro West Detention Center. Despite continued pleading with corrections staff that she was female, Mrs. Pichardo was left in this cell for more than 10 hours. Throughout that time, male inmates tormented, taunted and sexually harassed her. She feared she would be raped. So terrified, Mrs. Pichardo relieved herself in her clothes to prevent having to undress and use the toilet in front of the men.
Because of the error in misclassifying her as male, her family was unable to locate her within the corrections system for hours. When they determined her location in a male jail cell, her family repeatedly told guards she was a woman.
Mrs. Pichardo has suffered continued physical and psychological damage from the ordeal. She has been under psychiatric medical care since the incident almost three years ago, affecting her personal and professional life. Mrs. Pichardo is an attorney and elected official in her hometown of Bonao in the Dominican Republic. Because of the continued emotional trauma she endures she was too distraught to seek re-election.
"The agony that our client endured due to the deliberate indifference of the Miami-Dade Corrections Department is unspeakable," said David Kubiliun, attorney at Greenspoon Marder. "I cannot fathom how the corrections staff determined that Mrs. Pichardo, who is a wife of 32 years, mother and grandmother, could be anything except female."
"The Corrections Department betrayed the public trust in our justice system. We will pursue every avenue to ensure that Mrs. Pichardo receives justice for her ordeal and such an incident never happens again," added John de Leon of The Law Offices of Chavez and De Leon, who also represents Mrs. Pichardo.
Lawyers Kubiliun and de Leon will be joined by Mrs. Pichardo and her family at a news conference to address the lawsuit on Wednesday, September 14th at 10:00 a.m. in the Zafiro Sur Room of the Embassy Suites Hotel at Avenida Tiradentes n.º 32, Silver Sun Gallery, 10119, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
About Greenspoon Marder
Greenspoon Marder is committed to providing excellent client service through our cross-disciplinary, client-team approach. Our goal is to understand the challenges that our clients face, build collaborative relationships, and craft creative solutions designed and executed with long-term strategic goals in mind. Since our inception in 1981, Greenspoon Marder has become a full-service, Am Law 200 and NLJ 350 law firm with more than 180 attorneys. We serve Fortune 500, middle-market public and private companies, start-ups, emerging businesses, individuals and entrepreneurs across Florida and the United States. For more information, visit www.gmlaw.com.
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SOURCE Greenspoon Marder