UMC to pay woman $225,000 to settle emergency room claim

University Medical Center agreed on Friday to pay $225,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a Las Vegas woman who alleged emergency room personnel refused to treat her in 2009 when she arrived at the county-run hospital in labor.

The woman, Roshunda Abney, gave birth to a girl the day after she sought treatment, but the baby died a short time later.

"We're happy that we were able to finally close this chapter of the story for my clients," said attorney Jacob Hafter, who represents Abney and the baby's father, Raffinee Dewberry.

Hafter said the Clark County Commission must approve the settlement. The hospital's lawyers could not be reached for comment.

Abney alleged she arrived at UMC on Nov. 30, 2009, and waited for about six hours without being treated despite her complaints about abdominal pain. She said she and Dewberry then went to nearby Valley Hospital, where hospital staff suggested they could face a similar wait.

Believing they would not be helped, they left Valley and bought over-the-counter pain medication for Abney. Within 20 minutes of arriving home on Dec. 1, 2009, she gave birth.

Hafter alleged the hospitals violated the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act and failed to screen Abney properly. Abney has told the Review-Journal that she did not know she was pregnant.

The lawsuit is proceeding against Valley Hospital. A trial is scheduled to start Aug. 29 before Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt.

In a December 2009 email, Valley attorney Kenneth Webster denied the lawsuit's allegations regarding the hospital and its staff.

"At no time was Ms. Abney discouraged from seeking medical treatment at Valley Hospital, nor was she denied a medical examination," Webster wrote. "Ms. Abney and Mr. Dewberry abandoned any alleged request to be seen at Valley Hospital when they voluntarily chose to leave the facility after a matter of only minutes, without providing even their names or any description of a physical complaint."

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at or 702-384-8710.