Family sues after Nassau Jail inmate’s cancer death

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The family of a Roosevelt man who died in the Nassau County Jail's custody filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county, the jail and the facility's medical provider.

Emanuel McElveen was 20 years old when he died last July of cancer. He was an inmate at the Nassau County Jail. Family and friends at the time were stunned.

Now McElveen's family has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against Nassau County, the sheriff's office and Armor, the former medical provider at the jail. Records show this is the fifth federal lawsuit currently pending against the county and Armor after the deaths of 14 inmates in six years.

“I think it's complete incompetence on behalf of Armor,” says Nicholas Warywoda, attorney for McElveen's estate. He says McElveen started to feel sick the month after he was locked up.

“He started to make complaints about swelling in his neck, weight loss, then it eventually led to swelling in his legs … and they kept diagnosing him as having malnutrition,” he says.

Warywoda says McElveen was also denied medical attention.

“It got to the point where Manny was filing formal complaints with the jail asking them to get him the care that he believed he needed,” says McElveen.

Nine months later, Warywoda says McElveen was finally sent to the Nassau University Medical Center and diagnosed with lymphoma. He died a week later.

Warywoda says the case was reviewed by an oncologist, who said it was apparent at the time when he initially made the complaints.

“They should have thought that he had cancer, and at that point, not only was it treatable, it was curable,” he says.

As News 12 Long Island reported last month, a state commission found Armor provided inadequate care in at least eight of the 14 inmate deaths. There was no comment from Nassau County, the sheriff's office or Armor for this report. All cited the pending litigation.

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