Franklin County

She gave birth alone in a bloody Kentucky jail cell. Lawsuit spells out what went wrong.

A woman who said she gave birth in a jail cell without medical attention has filed a federal lawsuit against staffers with the Franklin County Regional Jail.

The suit filed Monday said jail staff "consciously failed to take reasonable measures to provide or obtain treatment for" Kelsey Love at a time when she was in "serious medical need." Love, 28, of New Albany, Ind., gave birth to a boy on May 16, 2017, two days after her Mother's Day arrest.

Love was later indicted on a charge of receiving stolen property for allegedly driving her mother's Cadillac Escalade without permission. She was also charged with driving under the influence. At the time of her arrest, Love told police that she had used methamphetamine and opioids but she would not consent to a blood test because she would "fail it," according to court records.

Her suit names Franklin County Jailer Rick Rogers, jail staffers Anthony Pullen and a "Sgt. Harrod," and four deputy jailers whose names were not known to Love but who logged entries on an observation record or who were seen on jail surveillance videos. Franklin County government was also named as a defendant.

Love was eight months pregnant at the time of her arrest. Jail officers were told by a triage team to observe Love every 10 minutes; an inmate observation record filed with the suit indicated that Love was checked 67 times in intervals ranging roughly from 10 to 20 minutes. There is no notation that she was in labor.

"When they looked in Love's cell, it was obvious she was in labor," the suit said. "Despite her obvious condition, no defendant provided her medical care or attention."

When deputy jailer Michael Phillips entered Love's cell shortly after 8 a.m., "there was a large amount of blood smeared on the floor across the entire cell," the suit said. "By then, Love had completed labor and delivered an infant alone in a jail cell without medical attention."

The inmate observation record noted that Love "delivered baby in cell" at 8:03 a.m. An ambulance was called and took the mother and child to Frankfort Regional Medical Center.

There was no immediate comment about the federal complaint from Jailer Rogers. But after the birth, he told media his staff performed well.

Rogers told The State Journal newspaper in Frankfort that the jail has "registered nurses and LPNs that are very well prepared for just about any medical issue or emergency, including childbirth. This is definitely a first for us here. I am pleased the baby appears healthy and is doing well. My staff did a great job reacting fast; they knew exactly what to do and made this situation a success."

Love is currently living in southern Indiana and her son is healthy, said Aaron Joseph Bentley, a Louisville attorney who represents her in the federal suit.

"Just because you're incarcerated doesn't mean you lose your right to medical care," Bentley said Tuesday. "It's no different than if she had a heart attack or some other emergent condition. The jail staff is required to pay attention to her, find out if she's having an emergent medical issue and take care of it."

Love's trial on receiving stolen property and DUI is scheduled for Aug. 15 in Franklin Circuit Court.

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