By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Over the next two days, they pleaded with Ana to return Orien. Then on January 30, Ana warned that if they kept protesting, she'd call the police, according to the lawsuit. "This is a mother-in-law from hell situation," Dietz says.
Late that night, Ana called 911 and reported Cynthia wanted to take her own life. Officers again rushed to the townhouse on West Eighth Street. This time, they didn't push through the door. But after talking to Erik, they determined the young mother believed she "wasted her time giving birth, therefore she wanted to kill herself," according to the police report.
Both Erik and Cynthia deny saying that. They acknowledge she was sad without her baby but say she never thought about suicide.
And so once again, police held her under the Baker Act. This time she was taken to Citrus Health Network on West 20th Avenue in Hialeah and placed in a room alone. "I would bang on the door and sign, 'I want to go home,'" she says. There was nobody to sign back.
A day later, she was moved to Jackson Memorial Hospital and given a translator. Soon she was discharged with no medication.
On February 6, a letter addressed to Erik arrived at their townhouse. It appeared to be written by his lover. "I don't want to get you in trouble with your 'crazy wife' as you call her, lol," it read. "I will remember your wet fat kisses all over my body."
Erik and Cynthia believe it was an attempt by Ana to separate them. "She wanted me to marry someone rich," Erik explains.
On February 8, the couple filed an emergency motion with the Miami-Dade family court division to have their child returned immediately. They were granted custody 12 days later.
In late December 2007, they sued Hialeah and Palmetto. The claim: Both the city and the hospital failed to provide her an effective means to communicate. They seek damages for mental distress, humiliation, physical pain, and violation of their constitutional rights.
The young couple has since moved to Sullivan City, Texas, three hours south of Corpus Christi. Three months ago, they had a second baby. They don't speak to Ana much anymore.
Ana contends she's not overbearing and that Cynthia voluntarily left the baby with her on the way home from the hospital. Asked why parents who agreed to give up their newborn would file an immediate motion for custody, she said, "Okay, listen. Uh, I don't — Cynthia seems to have a lot of problems from childhood. Maybe she was jealous because Erik was very close to me." She also denied writing the letter.
Hialeah City Attorney Bill Grodnick said he would not comment on the facts of Cynthia's complaint, though he concluded that "based on preliminary assessment, we feel the case has no merit."
Paul H. Field, who represents Palmetto Hospital, faxed New Times a statement that said, "Mrs. Cuevas's admission was not scheduled, which meant that the hospital was not able to have an interpreter standing by."
Both Hialeah and Palmetto have previously settled Americans with Disabilities Act claims for discriminating against the hearing impaired. In 2004, a deaf man named Cesar Muñoz sued the city, claiming police officers cuffed and threw him to the ground for not responding. Hialeah paid Muñoz $10,000. Palmetto, too, settled a 1997 case for having no written policy for procedures with the deaf. Details of that case were unavailable.
"Erik and Cynthia have been stepped on their entire lives," says Dietz. "You see a case like this and you wonder how it got to this."
Cynthia adds simply: "The whole thing was bad communication."