ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A 72-year-old woman with diabetes who was working as a janitor at the Orange County courthouse is now suing a security company after she was trapped in a holding cell for nearly three days, court records show.
Deputies said the janitor, Libia Victoria Vargas, had gone into one of the courthouse’s holding cells to clean on the night of Friday, Jan. 27, when the door shut behind her, trapping her inside.
She had left her cell phone on her cleaning cart, which was outside in the hallway, leaving her with no way to contact anyone outside the cell, an incident report shows. While trying to open the door, Vargas also suffered a cut to her finger, the report shows.
While Vargas was able to drink water from a small faucet above the cell’s toilet, she had neither food nor insulin to help treat her diabetes, deputies said.
The janitor remained trapped in the cell until around 6:40 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 30, which is when a deputy noticed the cleaning cart and found the janitor inside, according to the sheriff’s office.
“The automatic door closer has been removed to ensure this does not happen again and upon hearing of the plight of the janitorial employee, Orange County has mandated that the security company walk every space within the janitorial footprint,” a county spokesperson wrote after the incident.
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A complaint filed on March 22 shows that Vargas is suing the security company Allied Universal, which provided security for the courthouse.
According to the complaint, Allied Universal’s employees were required to obtain keys from cleaning staff at around 10 p.m., return their driver’s licenses and have each cleaning worker sign out from the building.
“Ten O’clock came, and the cleaning crew all gave back the keys, had their licenses returned, signed out and left, with the exception of (Vargas),” the complaint shows.
Allied Universal’s employees were in charge of the courthouse’s security from the night Vargas became trapped to the time that she was found nearly three days later, the complaint reads.
As such, the complaint claims that Allied Universal was responsible for Vargas being trapped over the weekend due to not properly training and supervising their employees.
Court records show that Vargas is seeking between $50,001-$75,000 in damages from the company.
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