3 NY inmates file lawsuits against former jail health care provider

The lawsuits against the former medical provider for Orange County Jail allege inmates medical needs were neglected while they were in jail custody


By Chris McKenna
The Times Herald-Record

GOSHEN, N.Y. — Three current or former Orange County Jail inmates have filed lawsuits against the company that was fired as the jail's medical provider in February, alleging that their medical needs were neglected while they were in jail custody.

All three handwritten, civil rights complaints were mailed to U.S. District Court within three weeks of the county canceling its contract on Feb. 19 with Quality Choice Correctional Health Care, the New Rochelle-based business that had worked for the county for less than 14 months.

Quality Choice, with which the county had contracted to pay nearly $11 million over three years, has since been replaced with Correct Care Solutions, a Nashville-based business that had competed for the contract in 2014.

One plaintiff, Jose Miguel Oquenda, said he needs insulin injections for his diabetes but didn't get them while he was in the jail for two weeks last September, causing nerve damage and numbness in his toes that resulted in his being hospitalized.

Another, Forest Fate Sr., said it took more than two weeks for him to get an asthma pump for the attacks he had been having. The third inmate, Jouan Candelaria, said he was given Maalox for abdominal pain that turned out to be an abscess and required surgery.

All three inmates are representing themselves in court and demanding hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in damages.

Two complaints name Orange County Sheriff Carl DuBois and employees of his office as defendants, in addition to Quality Choice and its CEO and staff. Fate is now incarcerated at Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill; it's unclear if the other two plaintiffs are still in the county jail.

In preliminary responses to Oquenda's complaint, attorneys for both Quality Choice and Orange County told Judge Kenneth Karas they will ask him to dismiss the case, saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing or negligence by their clients.

"There was absolutely no allegation of a policy, practice or custom that directly caused the alleged deprivation of his constitutional right," wrote David Beatty, the Westchester County attorney representing Quality Choice.

The county and Quality Choice haven't submitted court papers yet for the other two complaints.
County spokesman Justin Rodiguez said by email on Thursday that it's "common practice for inmates to file legal complaints against the facility in which they have been placed. In all such instances we tender our case to the healthcare provider for their defense, since they provided the healthcare, not our jail personnel."

County officials initially said Quality Choice hadn't met their standards after firing them, but went further after the company threatened to sue the county for $21 million in April, saying the company had failed to provide enough staffing and "left a string of unpaid debts across our region."

Quality Choice accused the county of withholding $400,000 in owed payments because of alleged understaffing, and contended that its contract was improperly terminated.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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