A new class-action lawsuit claims dozens of migrant women have suffered medical abuse or endured nonconsensual surgeries while being detained in Georgia. The legal action was ignited by a Black nurse who uncovered the devastating, unnecessary medical practices at the Irwin County Detention Center.
The suit was filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. In the 160 page suit, about 40 women claim they were subjugated and retaliated against for speaking out over the abuse they endured under Dr. Mahendra Amin, who denied the claims through his lawyer.
“The filing will represent women who are currently in Canada, Guinea, Nigeria, Mexico, and Senegal — as well as many still detained and living in fear. It will also include declarations of all of these women’s experiences — including unnecessary gynecological procedures, teeth being removed without reason and downright horrific treatment — as well as expert gynecological and mental health testimony,” reads a statement regarding the suit, which was obtained by NewsOne.
The suit also says that staff at the center have been aware of Amin’s alleged abuse since 2018. Amin was the subject of a 2015 investigation over filing false claims through Medicaid and Medicare. He was ordered to pay $525,000 in a civil settlement along with other doctors.
As their punishment for speaking out, the women claim they have been physically abused, placed in solitary confinement, deported or threatened with deportation. They are asking for compensation, release from detainment and have asked that ICE allow them to participate in court proceedings. The women are also asking that the incoming Biden administration close the detention center privately owned by LaSalle Corrections, and investigate the individuals with prior knowledge of the abuse.
The Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation into the claims while the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general is also investigating.
In September, LaSalle Corrections refuted the abuse. ICE declined to comment due to the ongoing investigation.
Dawn Wooten, a Black nurse who worked at the detention center, called attention to the case earlier this summer when she said many of the women had come to her seeking help. She also stressed her concerns over the failure to provide adequate PPE and safe COVID-19 procedures in the wake of the pandemic.
“I had several detained women on numerous occasions who would come to me and say, ‘Ms. Wooten, I had a hysterectomy, why?’ I had no answers as to why they had those procedures,” she said during an interview on MSNBC in September.
“As a human, you just don’t treat people inhumane,” she continued.