An Aquebogue man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to felony charges in a double-fatal car crash in Nassau County is suing the county and its controversial inmate healthcare provider, alleging he was given inadequate care for his cancer diagnosis while being held for trial.
Robert Beodeker, 53, claims his Constitutional rights were violated when employees with the county and Miami-based Armor Correctional Health Services mismanaged his health and medical needs, according to a federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court last Tuesday.
In the suit filed, Mr. Beodeker alleges he “was subjected to significant and unjustifiable risk to his life and health” when physicians who treated him before he was convicted made scheduling errors with his appointments, canceled tests without notice and delayed necessary biopsies intended to test the status of his cancer.
“Not once during the entire 29 months that [I] was incarcerated at the Nassau County facility did [I] have an appointment to discuss [my] prostate cancer and [my] medical needs with any of the supervising physicians,” the lawsuit states.
Mr. Beodeker is seeking $215,000 in compensation to cover his previous attorney fees and damages. He is representing himself and could not be immediately reached for comment at Franklin Correctional Facility, where he is currently serving his prison sentence.
Mr. Beodeker — who was a longtime and well-known member of the local theater scene — was driving his pickup around 12:40 p.m. on March 4, 2013 on the Meadowbrook Parkway when he crashed into a broken-down Nissan Maxima and two people who were tending to the car.
The two men, John Elder, 76, of Freeport and Edward Ross, 65, of North Bellmore died at the scene.
Mr. Beodeker was arrested and charged with negligent homicide and second-degree manslaughter. He ultimately pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal earlier this year and was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison.
According to the federal lawsuit he filed, Mr. Beodeker was diagnosed with HIV and prostate cancer in early 2012. He was discussing treatment options around the time of the crash and his arrest, the suit claims.
While waiting for trial in jail, Mr. Beodeker was under the care of Armor Correctional Health Services, a contractor with Nassau County that cares for inmates in the corrections system.
The lawsuit states Armor Correctional Health Services took a “direct and clear” approach to treating his HIV, but showed little interest in creating a care plan for his cancer.
The suit claims that “no member of the Armor medical staff made any attempt to discuss how the ongoing monitoring and treatment of his prostate cancer would be managed during [Mr. Beodeker’s] incarceration.”
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of litigation that have accused Armor Correctional Health Services of providing substandard care to inmates. The suit also comes as the company is coming under scrutiny from critics and New York state investigators, according to a Newsday report.
In September, a New York state commission determined Armor gave “incompetent and deficient” medical care to John Gleeson, a Nassau County jail inmate who died in custody in 2014. The findings led critics to call for Nassau County to suspend its contract with Armor, Newsday reported.
The issues in New York are the latest to hound Armor, which has been the defendant in numerous lawsuits elsewhere in the country.
In 2013, the company paid $800,000 in an out-of-court settlement with the family of a Florida inmate who died after he spent about 36 hours in jail without treatment while suffering a stroke, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The sheriff’s office later ended its deal with Armor after the office paid $200,000 in a settlement with the family.
Just last month, officials in Niagara County ended their contract with Armor and sued the company, demanding reimbursement for legal fees spent in a 2012 wrongful death case, according to The Buffalo News.
In that incident, an inmate wasn’t given proper medication and died of heart failure and emphysema, according to a state Commission of Corrections report. Armor paid the inmate’s daughter $100,000 to settle the case, the Buffalo News reported.
On its website, Armor states it has been “highly successful at preventing and combating litigation resulting in a low number of active cases with the vast majority of claims dismissed.” The company claims more than 99 percent of malpractice lawsuits are resolved before going to trial.
“We have never had a judgment against us,” the company wrote. “Our record reflects our dedication to high standards of patient care and client service.”
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Armor declined to comment on the lawsuit by Mr. Beodeker, saying, “On matters of pending litigation, the company cannot comment specifically on any inmate’s case because of federal HIPAA regulations.”
Nassau County Attorney Carnell Foskey said the county “does not comment on pending litigation.”
Mr. Beodeker writes in the lawsuit that he was forced to set up numerous appointments with physician assistants to get testing done, and constantly needed to remind his healthcare providers of his condition.
On at least one occasion, Mr. Beodeker prepared for a morning procedure — including fasting for a day and undergoing an enema — only to learn at 7:30 p.m. that the test had been cancelled, according to the lawsuit.
Appointments were also canceled when doctors didn’t coordinate the dates with jail holidays and Mr. Beodeker’s court appearances. Mr. Beodeker said he filed 11 grievances with Nassau County during his stay in jail, but received delayed or no responses.
“The defendants must be held accountable to the callous indifference that these defendants continue to show by placing the health and lives of detainees, like the Plaintiff, at risk,” the lawsuit states.