On November 22, 2019, the siblings of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez and a representative of her estate filed an administrative claim for damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) after Roxsana, a Honduran transgender woman, died in immigration custody.
After fleeing horrific violence in Honduras, Roxsana and seventeen other transgender asylum seekers presented themselves at the U.S. port of entry in San Ysidro, California on May 9, 2018. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers took Roxsana into custody and failed to conduct any medical screening, though she requested to see a doctor for what she described as an infection.
CBP held Roxsana in a processing facility commonly referred to as an “hielera” or “ice box” because of its frigid temperatures. While in CBP custody, Roxsana’s health rapidly deteriorated. She coughed so much that she had difficulty breathing and she vomited regularly. The food CBP officers offered caused her to suffer diarrhea, stomach pain, and further vomiting. CBP officers refused to provide any medical assistance until other asylum seekers stopped eating in protest.
CBP agents brought Roxsana to a hospital, but remained present during her exam and kept her in shackles. Rather than providing a Spanish interpreter, the officers primarily communicated with the doctors themselves. The hospital cleared Roxsana for immigration detention before learning that she was HIV positive.
Until her death on May 25, 2018, Roxsana remained in immigration custody, transferred between facilities as her health continued to deteriorate. By the time Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers brought her to the hospital on May 17, 2018, doctors found her condition “way beyond” their ability to provide meaningful care. An independent autopsy determined the cause of death was “most probably severe complications of dehydration superimposed upon HIV infection, with the probable presence of one or more opportunistic infections.” The doctor also found evidence of physical abuse, with deep tissue bruising.
In the November 2019 claim, and a later supplement, Roxsana’s family and estate charged the United States as liable for wrongful death, negligence, negligent hiring and supervision, failure to provide medical care, medical malpractice, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, assault, battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and loss of chance of survival.
On July 2, 2021, Joleen Youngers, as the Ms. Hernandez’s estate representative, filed a complaint against the United States Government.
Following case consolidation in December 2021, a Second Amended Complaint was filed in January 2022. Defendants moved to dismiss. On April 1, 2022, the District Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants’ motion to dismiss. On April 15, 2022, Defendants filed an answer to Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint.
- November 2019 Administrative Claim
- Supplemental Administrative Claim
- Consolidated Order
- Second Amended Complaint (SAC)
- Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss SAC
- Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss SAC
- Defendants’ Reply ISO Motion to Dismiss SAC
- Order Denying in Part and Granting in Part Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss SAC
- Defendants’ Answer to Second Amended Complaint
Counsel: Law Office of R. Andrew Free | Daniel Yohalem | Katherine Murray | Transgender Law Center | Grand & Eisenhofer P.A.
Contact: R. Andrew Free | (844) 321-3221 | Andrew@ImmigrantCivilRights.com