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Lawsuit Claims Pregnant St. Louis Woman Spent 39 Days in Jail Over Paternity Case

— April 11, 2019

Adrianna Thurman recently filed a lawsuit after she was jailed for 39 days when she refused to hand her kids over for a paternity test.

According to a federal lawsuit filed earlier this week, a pregnant woman was jailed for 39 days by a St. Louis County Family Court commissioner when she refused to “produce her two children for a paternity test out of concern that her ex-boyfriend was stalking her.” The suit alleges the woman’s imprisonment caused her baby to “be born prematurely and prevented her stage IV breast cancer from being diagnosed until after she was freed.

The woman, Adrianna Thurman, filed the lawsuit with help from her lawyer, Chelsea Merta. According to Merta, Thurman’s incarceration also caused her to lose her job and left her relatives to care for her children. Eventually, her children were “tested and were not related to her ex-boyfriend.

Image of a legal gavel
Legal Gavel; image courtesy of qimono via Pixabay,

The suit further states that Thurman was never told of her “rights after her arrest, including her right to a bond of as little as $100.” Additionally, jail staff told her “they were unaccustomed to handling those jailed on civil matters and that she’d slipped through the cracks.

What started the whole ordeal, though? Why was she asked to produce her children for a paternity test? Well, it turns out Erwin L. Rush, Thurman’s ex-boyfriend, was the one to file a “suit for paternity, child custody, and visitation in 2015.” However, Thurman failed to appear in court and Rush’s case was eventually dismissed. Then, in March 2018, Rush filed another court action telling Thurman she had to “submit her two children for genetic testing.”

Thurman refused Rush’s request and told Margaret Murphy, the lawyer representing her children, “that they were not Rush’s and he was simply trying to stalk and harass her,” according to her suit.

Because she refused to have her children tested, she was arrested on October 2, 2018, by St. Louis County sheriff’s deputies. Then, on November 8, she was “brought before Commissioner Mary Greaves…who lectured her and sent her back to jail,” the suit states. It should be noted that, in the state of Missouri, “a person arrested on a civil warrant can be held indefinitely.”

From there, Murphy and Rush’s lawyer, Heather Highland, “sought an order from Circuit Judge Mary Ott that freed Thurman the next day.

As a result of Thurman’s ordeal, her suit names a variety of entities and individuals, including the county, sheriff, and Greaves’ clerk, Michael Young. Young is named in the suit because he allegedly “failed to set a hearing for Thurman in front of Greaves.”


Woman’s lawsuit claims St. Louis County jailed her for 39 days while pregnant over paternity case

Thurman v. St Louis County et al

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