At least $4.8M settlement OK'd in RI detainee case
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The family of a man who died of cancer after Rhode Island jail guards taunted him and accused him of faking his illness will receive at least $4.8 million under a settlement approved Thursday by a federal judge.
U.S. District Court Judge William Smith called it a tragic and trying case and offered his condolences to Lin Li Qu, whose husband, Hiu Lui Ng, died while in immigration custody in 2008.
‘‘I hope that this brings you some measure of comfort in the future and helps your children,’’ Smith said in court after approving the settlement.
The settlement is sealed, but the judge and a court-appointed representative for Ng’s 6-year-old and 8-year-old sons, indicated in court it is at least $4.8 million. Lawyers involved in the case said the bulk of the settlement will be paid by the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Memorial Hospital and the Franklin County Jail in Vermont will also pay.
Ng, a 34-year-old Chinese computer engineer who lived in New York City, overstayed a visa and was detained in July 2007 when he went to immigration court for an interview. He was held at various detention centers, including the Franklin County Jail and the privately owned Wyatt jail, until his death the following year.
A report after his death by ICE found that Ng was abused and neglected by Wyatt guards. The lawsuit said he complained repeatedly to guards that he was in pain, but to no avail.
The ICE report said a video taken days before Ng’s death shows him screaming while being dragged by the arms down a hallway and onto a bus, as well as being denied use of a wheelchair and being ordered to stand up, even though Ng said he was unable to walk.
Ng was diagnosed with liver cancer a few days before his death. He died Aug. 5, 2008, at Rhode Island Hospital.
The lawsuit was filed in 2009 by the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the family.
‘‘Mr. Ng’s last 30 days at Wyatt were a nightmare, a living nightmare,’’ Robert McConnell, a lawyer who represented the family, said outside the courthouse Thursday. ‘‘It became a power struggle, I think, with the facility. No one should have to die like that.’’