A Sabattus mother who says she was taken from Florida to Maine shackled in a dog cage soaked in her own bodily fluids has filed a federal lawsuit against Androscoggin County and the private transportation company involved.
In a case that gained publicity as a result of a March 2017 Sun Journal investigation, Meghan Quinn was arrested in Florida in November 2016 on an outstanding warrant issued by the Androscoggin County district attorney.
In her 16-page complaint, filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court by Portland attorney Benjamin Donahue, Quinn claims she was subsequently taken back to Maine by U.S. Prisoner Transport, Inc., over the course of a “zigzagging” five-day road trip in which she was shackled in a dog cage affixed to the floor of a 15-passenger van.
Quinn, now 35, was released from the cage just a few times to stretch and use the bathroom during the trip, according to the allegations described in her lawsuit.
“For the remainder of the journey, she knelt in the dog cage covered in her own blood, urine and fecal matter, as the van’s driver’s refused to provide for her most basic human needs,” the lawsuit reads, in part, adding that her nose was broken when the van stopped abruptly at one point, allegedly throwing her face-first into the metal bars.
Quinn’s lawsuit alleges that during the drive, she was forced to urinate in a Ziploc bag and defecate in a McDonald’s cheeseburger wrapper in full view of male prisoners seated in the van. She alleges the smell grew to be so bad, she “vomited almost constantly” and the unclean conditions caused infections in her ankles, where the “overtightened” shackles chafed away skin and opened cuts.
In addition to the county and U.S. Prisoner Transport — as well as its parent company, Prisoner Transport Systems of America — Quinn is suing the two van drivers and Androscoggin County District Attorney Andrew Robinson. Quinn is suing on seven counts, including a civil rights violation, battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is seeking a jury trial and, if successful, unspecified actual and punitive damages.
According to the Sun Journal, the warrant for Quinn’s arrest was for violating probation conditions tied to a 2011 sentence for forgery.
In the aftermath of the Sun Journal report, Robinson told the newspaper his office would cease to use the Florida-based U.S. Prisoner Transport.
“Someone who is being transported back to the state of Maine to be dealt with in the criminal justice system should be transported in humane conditions,” he said at the time. “What is described in the way she was treated is not something we would ever knowingly allow to happen.”
The Sun Journal reported Thursday that at least two other prisoners transported by U.S. Prisoner Transport have filed notice to sue the company, alleging similar experiences. One rode in the same van as Quinn, the other prisoners’ attorney, Lewiston-based Verne Paradie, told the Sun Journal.
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