2011-01-05 / Front Page

$35M Lawsuit Filed By Monserrate’s Girlfriend

BY LIZ GOFF

The girlfriend of former state Senator Hiram Monserrate recently filed a $35 million lawsuit against the city, the Queens district attorney’s office, the NYPD and the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System (LIJ).

Karla Giraldo alleges in the lawsuit that doctors at LIJ conspired with Queens police and the Queens district attorney’s office, in violation of her civil rights, to coerce her to say Monserrate intentionally cut her with a broken glass during a December 2008 domestic dispute.

Monserrate brought Giraldo to LIJ following the dispute for treatment of a laceration to her left eye.

Giraldo claims in the lawsuit, filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, that she told a doctor at LIJ she suffered the injury accidentally at the hands of her boyfriend Monserrate. Giraldo also alleges in the lawsuit that she stated her belief to the doctor that there was no intent on the part of her boyfriend to cause her injury.

Giraldo charges that one doctor “became very aggressive and angry at her when she refused to admit [to him] that her boyfriend intentionally caused the laceration”. She further states that the doctor threatened her and “pressed her to state her boyfriend assaulted her despite the fact that this was not true”, and claimed the doctor said he was aware that Monserrate was a politician.

The lawsuit states that two LIJ doctors then alerted police, believing Giraldo was a victim of domestic violence, and an Emergency Unit nurse refused to allow Monserrate into Giraldo’s exam room to let him translate for her from Spanish to English. The lawsuit charges the nurse also “erroneously stated in her triage notes that Giraldo’s injury was the result of an altercation”, and that the nurse failed to name the other individual involved in the altercation. Giraldo also claims in the lawsuit that the nurse “did not believe she was a domestic violence victim”.

“The LIJ defendants intentionally and overzealously exaggerated [Giraldo’s] injuries and cause of said injuries solely because they knew Monserrate was a high-profile New York state politician,” the lawsuit states.

Monserrate was subsequently tried and convicted of misdemeanor assault and was expelled from the New York state senate in light of the guilty verdict. 

Giraldo reunited with Monserrate last summer, after a Queens Criminal Court justice eased conditions of an Order of Protection issued by the court that prevented Monserrate from contact with Giraldo.

Giraldo further alleges in the lawsuit that the LIJ doctors and nurse, “conspired with the NYPD and the Queens district attorney’s office to create statements that would falsely implicate Monserrate of a crime and falsely stated comments that were allegedly made by the plaintiff”.

Giraldo states that, “against her will she was forcefully transported to the 105th Precinct” for questioning. When she was transported to the 105th Precinct, Giraldo “had no coat, had not eaten for over 10 hours and was wearing only slippers”. Upon her arrival at the precinct, police failed to offer her clothing, despite her remarks that she was cold, the lawsuit states.

Giraldo further states in the lawsuit she was “forcefully ordered to sign a statement accusing Monserrate of assaulting her”.

Giraldo’s attorney said a police officer “made false, misleading and fallacious statements about her boyfriend having many girlfriends, being married and his wife being present in the precinct and would be introduced to the plaintiff if she would sign an accusatory statement against her boyfriend”.

The lawsuit further claims that following five hours of questioning, Giraldo gave police a statement, written in Spanish, where she said the incident was an accident.

Giraldo was subsequently transported to the Queens district attorney’s office where, she claims, “district attorney officials became upset and yelled [at her] through a Spanish interpreter because she would not change her statement,” the lawsuit charges.

A North Shore-LIJ spokesperson denied the claims stating, “It’s obviously untrue, hundreds of patients come through our emergency department each day and [Giraldo] was obviously one of those patients.”

LIJ spokesperson Terry Lynam said, “The notion that there was some conspiracy is unfounded.”

Spokespersons for the NYPD and the Queens district attorney's office refused comment on the ongoing litigation.

 

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