A federal judge who presided over the wrongful death case of a Nassau County jail inmate declared a mistrial Monday after she learned that a key witness — who was hospitalized over the weekend — won’t be available to testify for two weeks.
U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert in Central Islip did not say what malady afflicted Dr. Vincent Manetti, the psychiatrist who examined Bartholomew Ryan, 32, hours before the Iraqi war veteran committed suicide in his jail cell in 2012.
Jail and medical officials should have taken steps to better monitor and care for Ryan, who told them he was on psychiatric medication, according to Nicholas Warywoda, of Port Washington, the attorney who represents the Ryan family.
The judge told jurors that Manetti, who was scheduled to testify Monday, was admitted to a hospital Sunday due to an emergency.
The second trial is set to start Feb. 13 with jury selection.
The Ryan family, Warywoda said, would have liked to see the trial conclude before the holidays.
“The family was disappointed that their day in court was delayed,” Warywoda said. “In the end, they believe justice will prevail.”
Ryan had served in the military from 2003 to 2007, including a combat deployment near Al Taqaddum, Iraq in 2005. His family said the decorated Marine was unable to hang on to his jobs and his marriage because he was battling post-traumatic stress disorder and drug addiction.
On Feb. 23, 2012, Ryan was jailed because he couldn’t raise the $5,000 bail after he was charged with driving while under the influence of drugs stemming from an August 2010 traffic stop in which he was allegedly found to have methadone in his system. On Feb. 24, 2012, correction officers found Ryan hanging from a noose fashioned from a bedsheet.
His mother, Lilyann Ryan, of Seaford, sued Nassau County, its health care contractor, Armor Correctional Health Services, and the sheriff’s department, alleging the jail’s negligence led to his suicide.
“Every medical professional Bart came in contact with failed him in some way,” Warywoda said.
In 2013, a state oversight agency found Ryan was improperly assessed for suicide risk by a doctor at the jail.
Ryan was among 12 inmates who died while in custody at the county jail since 2011 when Armor, a for-profit company based in Florida, won an $11 million-a-year contract to provide health care services for more than 1,000 inmates at the East Meadow facility. That year, County Executive Edward Mangano privatized health care services at the jail in an attempt to save money.
The families of three other inmates who died while in custody at the county jail are also suing Armor and Nassau County. Ryan’s lawsuit is the first case to go to trial.
The attorneys for Armor did not return calls Monday and Nassau County Attorney Carnell Foskey declined to comment. Previously, they contended they provided proper care and supervision to Ryan, and aren’t to blame for his death.