ACLU Adds Memorial Hospital And Others As Defendants In Case Of Wyatt Detention Center Detainee Who Died In Custody

July 23, 2010 12:00 am

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In response to thousands of pages of discovery documents turned over to ACLU attorneys by the Wyatt Detention Facility, the RI ACLU has today named eight additional defendants, including Memorial Hospital, in its federal lawsuit on behalf of the family of Hiu Lui “Jason” Ng, who died while in the custody of immigration officials at the Central Falls detention center. Ng, a 34-year-old Chinese detainee, died in August 2008 after complaining for months to prison officials about being in excruciating pain. Guards and medical personnel at Wyatt had continually accused Ng of faking his illness and denied him medical care; he was only diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and a broken spine less than a week before he died.

Besides Memorial Hospital and an emergency room doctor, the newly named defendants include three correctional officers who participated in dragging the debilitated Ng, screaming in pain, to a van for a trip to Hartford, Connecticut a little more than a week before his death; a Wyatt medical officer who visited him in his cell shortly after this episode and apparently did nothing to care for him properly; and two nurses who also failed to provide him care.

On July 26, 2008, per order from a prison doctor three days earlier, Wyatt Staff transported Mr. Ng to Memorial Hospital to have an x-ray and MRI. A doctor told him that they could not perform the MRI because it was a Saturday, and discharged him without further tests or treatment. In adding the Hospital as a defendant in the suit, the amended complaint states: “The Memorial Hospital and its staff ignored Mr. Ng’s obvious severe medical condition in the emergency room, sending him back to Wyatt with the astounding diagnosis of sciatica.” A week later, doctors quickly diagnosed him as having terminal liver cancer that had spread throughout his entire body and a fractured spine. Mr. Ng’s medical records also indicate that he had multiple bruises that occurred when Wyatt Staff dragged him from his cell at Wyatt the week before.

After reviewing the materials obtained through discovery, RI ACLU attorney Robert McConnell, from the law firm of Motley Rice LLC., said: “The addition of more Wyatt staff as defendants demonstrates just how widespread the misbehavior at the facility was. Jason’s treatment cannot be attributed to merely a rogue officer or two.” McConnell added that it was also “incomprehensible, given Jason’s condition at the time, how Memorial Hospital could have sent him back to Wyatt without keeping him, caring for him, and properly diagnosing him.” Last month, the federal judge hearing the case refused to dismiss the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) from the lawsuit for its involvement in his treatment and untimely death.

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