A former Nassau jail inmate whose medical negligence claims are part of the state’s lawsuit against the facility’s health care provider has filed a federal action against the embattled vendor, the county and sheriff.
The lawsuit from Billy Hine, 58, of East Meadow, claims Armor Correctional Health Services and government officials put in place practices “designed to deprive and delay” medical care for inmates “in an effort to minimize the cost.”
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in New York’s Eastern District, says Hine was denied competent and timely care that included access to prescription medication.
It also alleges the defendants have known about problems with the East Meadow jail’s medical care for years but haven’t fixed them.
“I’m glad that I’m finally going to have my day in court so I can speak for myself and the guys who were unfortunate enough to pass away,” Hine said in an exclusive interview Thursday.
The former comedy writer and radio personality has said he suffers from conditions that include a traumatic brain injury, chronic back pain, knee problems, bipolar disorder and depression, as well as health challenges connected to gastric bypass surgery.
Hine has said that while serving a sentence for a felony DWI conviction last year, he sometimes had to cry himself to sleep under his pillow when his pain became intense after he couldn’t get the medication he needed.
An Armor spokeswoman released a statement Thursday saying the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation and “abides by federal health care laws and does not comment on its patients’ health care.”
County Attorney Carnell Foskey said in a statement that Nassau officials hadn’t yet been served with Hine’s lawsuit, but that Armor’s contract “requires them to indemnify and defend the county.”
However, the contract also states Armor isn’t responsible for any portion “of a loss that is caused by the negligence or willful misconduct . . . of the indemnified parties,” meaning county officials.
Hine’s civil claim alleges Sheriff Michael Sposato “directly participated in the constitutional violations” against him.
It says Sposato “continued to defend Armor’s performance despite numerous preventable inmate deaths and findings of inadequate health care” at the jail.
Sposato didn’t directly respond to an inquiry Thursday seeking comment.
The lawsuit adds that “despite being well aware of Armor’s history of repeated failures” the county and sheriff have kept Armor as the jail’s health care provider.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s July lawsuit against Armor included an affidavit from Hine recalling how the jail’s medical director told him he “was getting too much medication on the outside” and wouldn’t get all of it behind bars.
Armor, which has repeatedly defended its medical practices, has been under intense fire after a series of Nassau inmate deaths.
The state Commission of Correction has found the company provided negligent care in connection with five inmate deaths since first winning a Nassau contract in mid-2011. Six more inmate deaths from this year remain under investigation.
Hine said he fell in a jail shower in March 2015 after not getting medication for multiple days, and lost consciousness and suffered a concussion.
But he said Armor refused to send him to the hospital until the next day, and denied him some medication again after his return to the jail — allegations included in both his and Schneiderman’s lawsuit.
Hine has jail paperwork he said shows he had to sometimes file five requests for treatment before Armor paid attention.
Hine’s Westbury attorney, Harry Demiris Jr., said Thursday that his client’s federal lawsuit was the result of a “deprivation of his basic rights.”
“Even after he had an acute incident when he fell . . . Armor and the jail still refused to provide him with any of his basic medications,” he added.