The family of a Connecticut prison inmate who died of bacterial meningitis has filed a lawsuit alleging prison officials allowed him to suffer for more than a week before sending him to a doctor.
The malpractice and negligence lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, was filed in Superior Court this month by the estate of Anthony Pedraza after being approved in April by the state’s claims commissioner, who must sign off on any litigation against the state.
Legal documents show 24-year-old Pedraza of Willimantic first reported severe headaches, vomiting and other symptoms to officials at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution on June 28, 2012. Pedraza was serving time for a probation violation on a drug charge, according to state records.
According to documents attached to the lawsuit, a nurse initially suggested giving him Tylenol, but treated him with only ice water after learning he was allergic to the painkiller.
The next day he was given allergy tablets and scheduled to see an optometrist on July 3 after complaining about pressure behind his eyes.
He continued to complain and was brought to the prison infirmary on July 6, where a nurse practitioner found he had a temperature of 101.6 degrees and treated him with Motrin, according to the lawsuit.
On July 7, Pedraza was not able to stand without the assistance of staff, according to the lawsuit. He was taken to the emergency room at Backus Hospital with a 103-degree fever, diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and transferred to the University of Connecticut’s John Dempsy Hospital in Farmington.
Doctors at the UConn Health Center performed emergency surgery to treat an abscess in Pedraza’s brain caused by the infection, but he died on July 13, 2012, according to the lawsuit.
“Mr. Pedraza suffered extreme emotional distress, mental and physical pain and his untimely death from failure to diagnose and treat his illness,” Donald Freeman, the attorney for his estate, writes in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit is accompanied by letters from several doctors who reviewed the records. Each found that while officials at the two hospitals acted appropriately, the prison staff did not.
Correction Department spokeswoman Karen Martucci said the department does not comment on ongoing litigation.•