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The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department says it tried to find Virginia Soto, the 47-year-old woman who was arrested last month on drug-related charges and mistakenly detained in the jail’s male unit, living and showering with male inmates. But this time, it may be D.C.’s plaintiffs bar that has more interest in locating her. Though Soto didn’t file any complaint against the D.C. Department of Corrections before she was released from jail, some trial lawyers are already speculating that the city could face a pricey lawsuit if Soto resurfaces. “Depending on the trauma and emotional distress of the individual, this incident definitely has prima facie value,” says Keith Watters of Keith Watters & Associates and immediate past president of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia. Wayne Cohen, managing partner of Cohen & Cohen and past president of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington D.C., agrees that the District would have substantial liability in the case. “The woman would probably receive a substantial amount of damages,” he says. Punitive damages would come into the picture if Soto can show that the D.C. correctional officers placed her in the male unit on purpose, Watters says. “If you knew her name and address, you could get to her. But a lot of people in jail don’t have permanent addresses,” Watters says.
Osita Iroegbu can be contacted at [email protected].

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