NYC Pays $5.75M Settlement for Death of Rikers Prisoner

On September 27th, 2016, New York City agreed to pay $5.75 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of Bradley Ballard, a mentally ill and diabetic Rikers Island prisoner who was found naked and covered in excrement after being locked in his cell for six days. The settlement is reportedly the largest ever paid by the city over the death of a prisoner in its custody.

Ballard was imprisoned in June 2013 on a parole violation for his failure to report an address change. In July he was sent to the psychiatric prison ward of Bellevue Hospital Center, but after only 38 days he was sent back to Rikers' mental health unit where he remained until his death in September. The State Commission of Correction concluded that the Correction Department and its private contractor Corizon Health were "so incompetent and inadequate as to shock the conscience... Had Ballard received adequate and appropriate medical and mental health care and supervision and intervention when he became critically ill, his death would have been prevented."

Congratulations are due to NPAP member firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, who represented Ballard's family with the Legal Aid Society's Prisoners' Rights Project. The city would not admit any violation of Bradley Ballard's civil rights in connection with the settlement.