Clayton mom sues county after baby born in jail dies

A mother of three is suing Clayton County in the death of her fourth baby, who she claims died because officials in the south metro community’s jail refused her care when she went into labor.

Tiana Hill alleges that despite her constant pleas on Dec. 29, 2019, to be sent to the hospital because she was having a baby, she was denied help and instead was sent to the jail’s infirmary. The next day she gave birth to a child named “D.H.” in her underwear, the federal lawsuit said.

The mother and child were taken to the hospital the next day and the baby died four days later.

In an exclusive with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Hill said she filed the $25 million lawsuit to make sure she is the last person to be put in that position behind the jail’s walls.

“I personally feel that I was neglected,” a tearful Hill said in a recent interview at the Cobb County office of her attorney Mitchell Albert. “It has definitely hurt me and it should be resolved.”

In addition to wrongful death, she is suing for violation of her constitutional rights, infliction of emotional distress and medical malpractice.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, comes as the jail and its practices are under increasing scrutiny. Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill is named as a defendant in the lawsuit along with Clayton County, the Clayton County Board of Commissioners and Charles Compton, the jail’s doctor.

Clayton County spokeswoman Valerie Fuller said the county does not comment on pending litigation.

The controversial sheriff has faced a barrage of legal troubles over the past few years.

In 2020, the Southern Center for Civil Rights filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office over the alleged failure to protect detainees from COVID-19. Marlon Brown, a former detainee of the jail, filed a lawsuit in January 2021 against Hill for retaining a deputy accused of throwing Brown into an elevator wall in 2017.

Last year, Hill was indicted by federal authorities on charges he violated the constitutional rights of five detainees by using restraining chairs as a punishment. Gov. Brian Kemp suspended him from duty in June. Hill has denied the federal charges.

Tiana Hill said she requested pre-natal care repeatedly to no avail after she was incarcerated in September 2019.

The mother of three daughters was arrested that month on charges of battery and violation of probation, according to Clayton County jail documents obtained in an open records request. The jail did not provide details on the charges.

Her lawsuit contends jail officials were aware during her intake that she was pregnant. The jail said it could not confirm whether her pregnancy was known at intake because of medical confidentiality laws.

According to the lawsuit, Hill said she went into labor on Dec. 29 and was admitted to the jail’s infirmary at 11:12 p.m. She alleged that she asked to be taken to the hospital but was refused. Jail staff believed she was having a miscarriage, according to the lawsuit.

Her baby was born in the early hours of the next morning. “D.H.” died on Jan. 3, 2020, at Southern Regional Medical Center.

“This is a violation of my constitutional rights,” Hill said, her voice trembling. “I don’t feel like I should have been ignored like that.”

In a response to an open records request, the Clayton Jail said it did not have any statistics on pregnancies in its facilities, including know how many women are pregnant annually and whether they were pregnant at intake or became pregnant during incarceration. The department said it would have to request that information from CorrectHealth Clayton LLC, one of the defendants in the lawsuit. A call to CorrectHealth Clayton LLC was not returned.

In a 2019 study by John Hopkins University, researchers said 1,396 already-pregnant women were admitted to 22 state and all federal prisons over the 12-month study period. The prisons housed 57 percent of imprisoned women in the United States at the time.

During the interview with the AJC, Hill’s attorney advised her not to share much of what happened concerning her baby’s death including the baby’s name, how far along Hill was in her pregnancy when incarcerated and what medical personnel did as she bore her child.

But Hill did say that since her baby’s death she has been on an emotional rollercoaster.

“I kind of keep myself together because I have other kids, but it’s hard,” she said. “I get emotional around his birthday and my birthday. But I’ve been raised in a strong family so I get through it. But you know, we all have times when we fall short a little bit.”