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Janitor Trapped in Cell Sues Florida Security Company

The 72-year-old woman spent an entire weekend locked inside a courthouse holding cell.

April 3, 2023

The janitor who became trapped last January for three days in an Orange County, Florida,  courthouse holding cell is now suing the security company assigned to the building she was cleaning, according to WKMG-TV.

As originally reported by CMM, Libia Vargas became trapped on a Friday evening, when the door of the holding cell she was cleaning shut behind her. With her mobile phone sitting on her cleaning cart in the hallway outside the cell, she had no way to contact anyone, and being the weekend, no one went to the 23rd floor, where she was trapped. She was released in the morning that following Monday.

Vargas, a 72-year-old woman who has diabetes, had no access to food or her medications for three days. She managed to drink water via a faucet located above the cell’s toilet. WKMG reports that court records filed on March 22 indicate that Vargas cut her finger while attempting to open the cell’s door.

According to those records, Vargas is suing security company Allied Universal for US$50,001–$75,000 in damages. The complaint claims that Allied Universal should be held responsible for the incident due to improper training and a lack of supervision of their employees.

“There had to have been at least seven shifts where new security folks came in,” her attorney, Bill McAfee, told WKMG. “[They] should have seen [her] driver’s license sitting there, should have seen that [her] keys had never been turned in, and that the log had never been signed out.”

Vargas spent two days in the hospital after the incident. “At 72 years old, to have that type of trauma,” McAfee said, “she’s not ever going to get over it.”

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