A former inmate at the Erie County Holding Center alleged in a lawsuit Monday that he laid on his cell floor for four days in excruciating pain from a perforated stomach that jail medical staff failed to treat.
Ryan Lamar, of Bergen, New York, was an inmate at the downtown Buffalo holding center from Nov. 5, 2020, to Nov. 13, 2020, and suffered from a rare stomach disease known as eosinophilic gastroenteritis that required him to take specific daily medication.
Lamar’s lawsuit in Erie County Supreme Court states that he explained to medical staff at the jail his need for the prescription medicine that treats his disease. Lamar’s condition is severe enough to be granted disability through Social Security.
“The medical staff told him they could not get the prescribed medication,” the lawsuit states.
After at least four days of not getting the prescribed medicine, Lamar began to projectile vomit and had blood in his stool, while suffering from “nearly unbearable” stomach pain, the lawsuit states. He was unable to eat or drink.
Lamar also was concerned that he was suffering from a perforated stomach because his symptoms mirrored those that he had the last time he was diagnosed with that injury.
Lamar, again, asked medical staff to treat his symptoms, but he said he was told that he “was not sick and that he should go back to his cell.”
The lawsuit states that the medical staff appeared to lack training in the medical condition from which Lamar suffered and “failed to take reasonable steps” to prevent further complications from his disease. Yet, the lawsuit alleges that medical staff were well aware that Lamar was in excruciating pain as he laid on his cell floor, vomiting blood.
Lamar said he repeatedly asked if he could be sent to the hospital for an examination and “staff continued to refuse.”
Lamar was released on bail on Nov. 13, 2020, and his bail bondsman immediately noticed something was wrong, so he called an ambulance, the lawsuit states. Lamar was taken by ambulance to ECMC, where he had surgery for a stomach abscess and perforation.
As a result, Lamar is suing the county, Sheriff Timothy Howard and other members of Howard’s administration for medical neglect and maintaining “inhumane conditions at the Erie County Holding Center.”
David Wilson, Lamar’s attorney, said his client sustained permanent injuries, including painful scar tissue.
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office does not comment on active lawsuits. The Erie County Department of Law also declined to comment.
In May, News 4 Investigates reported that lawsuits and settlements involving the Erie County Sheriff’s Office cost taxpayers millions of dollars, many of which deal with conditions at the holding center. More than three-dozen lawsuits have been filed against the sheriff’s office since 2005, the year Howard took office.
On Jan. 1, sheriff-elect John Garcia takes over the department after winning a close election in November. One of Garcia’s platforms is to deliver “professional jail management” by ensuring a safe, humane confinement for inmates through more training, accountability and transparency.