NewsCovering Kern County


Tehachapi prison guard moves forward to trial following loss of unborn baby

Posted at 12:56 PM, Oct 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 16:22:09-04

Female correctional officers received legal support Tuesday following a ruling in the Kern County Superior Court that established the current California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) policy for accommodating pregnant women in the workplace is temporarily illegal.

23ABC News started following the case back in April after a Tehachapi prison guard claimed she lost her baby after responding to a call she said she could have avoided if she was granted light duty.

In Februrary of 2017 Sarah Coogle said she told CDCR she was pregnant and she was later denied options for light duty. In July Coogle said she fell on her stomach while responding to a call after a fight broke out among inmates in a nearby building.

Coogle was taken to the hospital after the fall where she and her baby checked out ok but two months later she lost her baby. On Tuesday Judge Thomas Clark placed an injunction on the current CDCR policy, meaning CDCR can no longer enforce it’s policy among Coogle. According to Coogle the options she had under the policy were to take unpaid leave, medically demote to a lower level position with reduced benefits, salary and seniority and or continuing her job while waving medical conditions imposed by her physician.

Meaning women correctional officers throughout California can now benefit from Coogles case ruling on Tuesday.

“The concept on which it’s based which is the illegality of the policy applies to everybody so anyone could walk into the courtroom, any women in Sarah’s situation and claim the same benefits because the same policy today is being applied against thousands of correctional officers in the same situation that Sarah’s in,” Coogle attorney Arnold Peter said.

In September Sarah’s case will go forward to trial where she will fight for medical compensation for the injuries she sustained after being on life support for two days and suffering the loss of her baby.

RELATED ARTICLE DESCRIBING EXTENT OF INJURIES: Tehachapi Prison Guard files claim for loss of unborn baby.

From there Coogles council as well as Judge Thomas S Clark believe Coogle has a, "reasonable likelihood of prevailing on the merits and that the balancing of harm weighs in favor of the plaintiff," Clark's stated in the preliminary hearing.

"We don't see any reason why the judge is going to reverse it's decision and the preliminary injunction will become a permanent injunction," Coogle's attorney Arnold Peter said. According to Peter's statement the injunction on the policy will become a permanent injunction if the trial leans in favor of Coogle and that would mean the CDCR's policy will no longer be enforceable among any pregnant women.

 As of now the CDCR has declined to comment on the case.

At this time Coogle is on a short term leave of absence but is still employed by CDCR.