A former Rikers inmate is suing the city for $80 million claiming that the prison food almost killed him. Michael Isolda, who weighed 460 pounds before he underwent gastric bypass surgery, says he was only given four minutes at a time to eat his measly prison meals—because of his surgery, that speed-eating caused him to vomit after every meal and eventually separated his stomach from his intestine. “For me, Rikers Island is a death sentence,” he said in his lawsuit. “It’s not a matter of surviving and worrying about inmates. I have to worry about the food killing me.”
Isolda suffered from diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea and orthopedic problems when he decided to have gastric bypass surgery in 2008. He was arrested in 2010 for various drug offenses, and sentenced to a treatment program. He tested positive for oxycodone in March 2011, and was put back in jail—at that point, he weighed 160 pounds.
His surgeon sent a note with him to prison, explaining that “due to the small stomach pouch the patient takes longer to chew his food or vomiting may occur or food may be lodged in the esophagus." His menu options at the Otus Bantum Correctional Center at Rikers Island didn't help his gastrointestinal woes either: cereal, oatmeal, toast with jelly for breakfast; cold cuts for lunch; and beef stew for dinner. So basically, a far, far cry from fresh steaks and lobsters:
He claims the short eating period caused him to vomit after ever meal. Within a month of being in jail, he awoke in his cell unable to breathe and gripped by severe pain—he had to undergo emergency surgery because his stomach had separated from his intestine.
In addition to his medical bills and pain, Isolda also says he hasn't been able to have sex because of the emergency surgery: “When he had come home he had an open incision and because of that, the infection, we weren’t able to be intimate,” wife Jessica Isolda said. Isolda’s lawyer, Robert Adinolfi, said his client is a mess: “He’s very depressed. He looks like a Holocaust survivor.”