The state's attorney general claims in a lawsuit that a medical provider has failed to provide proper services to inmates in a suburban New York City jail, where 12 have died in the past five years, including four since March.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the allegations Tuesday in a lawsuit filed against Armor Correctional Health Medical Services, which is being paid $11 million annually to care for inmates at the Nassau County Correctional Center on Long Island.
"Failing to provide proper health services as required is completely unacceptable," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Neglecting the duty to provide adequate care not only defrauds taxpayers, it compromises the health and safety of inmates, with sometimes fatal consequences."
A statement from an Armor spokeswoman said the company needs time to review the complaint but intends to "vigorously defend" itself against the claims.
"Any allegation that Armor has failed to provide quality correctional medical care at the facility is simply false," the company said.
Armor, which is based in Miami, provides jail health services in 29 counties across eight states: Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin.
"Armor has provided a substantial amount of data that simply is contradictory to any claim of deficient patient care," spokeswoman Yeleny Suarez said. "Armor is proud of its work caring for the inmates at the Nassau County facility and will continue to do so as long as Nassau County wants it to do so."
Schneiderman's lawsuit, filed in Manhattan, claims Armor failed to meet performance standards required under the contract.
Of the 12 inmates who have died at the Nassau facility since 2011, five were found by the state Commission on Correction to have received inadequate medical care, according to the lawsuit.
One inmate who died in custody in July 2014 sought medication on June 5 that he had been taking at home, the lawsuit said. It claims he was not examined until six days later when he was found to have difficulty breathing and swelling of his shoulder, neck and throat. He was referred to a rheumatologist, but the referral visit was never made, according to the suit.
The inmate died as a result of cardiopulmonary arrest that the State Medical Review Board determined was due to swelling of his airway, the lawsuit said.
Schneiderman is seeking to bar Armor from bidding on any future health service contracts in New York and asks for an independent monitor to oversee compliance with the contract. It also wants Armor to pay fines and damages.
County Attorney Carnell Foskey said in a statement that Nassau officials have been working with the attorney general on its investigation of health care at the jail. He said a commissioner of corrections has been hired, and the Health Department placed a registered nurse at the facility to serve as a monitor.