The family of a teenager who died during a stint in solitary confinement on Rikers Island is suing the company responsible for supplying medical care to inmates.
Andy Henriquez was 19 when he perished in his cell from a tear in his aorta in April 2013, DNAinfo reports. The teen, who first entered Rikers when he was 16 on charges of murder and gang assault, began complaining of chest pain in 2012. He was diagnosed with costochondritis—inflamation in or around the ribs—shortly thereafter, though according the suit, the jail's clinic failed order a cardiac exam or other testing that might have revealed the arterial tear.
“He used to say ‘I don’t feel right, my chest hurts, I feel like I can’t breathe,'" said Rikers inmate Jesus Ramos during a deposition. "I used to scream—bend down from under my door, scream under my door, ‘CO, CO, 5 cell needs medical attention.'"
Henriquez was treated at the jail's clinic the night before his death, and was given an anti-inflammatory, a muscle relaxer and, later that evening, a "hand cream" that was prescribed to a different name. The news site reports that correction officers were supposed to check on Henriquez's section every 15 minutes, but guards admit that they did not, nor did they hear any calls for help.
But another inmate, Ernest Madison, said during a deposition that officers did in fact hear Henriquez's screams for help, and simply chose to ignore him.
“...they said, ‘Look, we took you yesterday. The doctor said you’re fine,'” Madison said.
Henriquez's mother is now suing Corizon, the company responsible for providing inmate's medical care. Despite taking in $1.2 billion in revenue, Corizon is facing lawsuits from more than two dozen New Yorkers accusing the provider of negligence.
"We get calls complaining about access to medical care and inadequate medical care on a weekly basis," said Mary Lynne Werlwas, an attorney at The Legal Aid Society's Prisoners Rights Project. "We're not a fan of the way they've been doing their job...and there's just been egregious health care."