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Lawsuit Over Rikers Island Suicide Settles for $380,000

by Christopher Zoukis

In July 2017, the family of a man who killed himself while in custody at the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City agreed to settle their wrongful death suit for $380,000.

Aris Hiraldo, a 24-year-old father of three, committed suicide by hanging himself with the drawstring from his sweatpants in February 2011. His family sued the New York City Department of Correction (NYCDOC), accusing the city of negligence, deliberate indifference to a serious medical need and violation of Hiraldo’s constitutional rights. The family also named jail medical practitioners Joshua Rosenthal, David Jurich and Ana Rodriguez as defendants.

According to the complaint and a New York Daily News article, Hiraldo had been placed on suicide watch after being arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. He was taken off suicide watch six days later but, according to attorneys for his family, his phone calls from the jail – which were monitored by NYCDOC employees – indicated that he was still suicidal. Yet no one in authority at the jail did anything.

The morning before he killed himself, Hiraldo had an argument with his girlfriend. He was found dead in his cell at 10:25 a.m. on February 3, 2011.

Nick Paolucci, a representative for the city’s Law Department, said the settlement was in the best interests of everyone involved.

“A resolution of this unfortunate case was best for all parties,” he stated.

The NYCDOC no longer uses Corizon, the company that provided medical services at Rikers Island at the time of Hiraldo’s death. [See: PLN, Oct. 2015, p.20]. The department launched an initiative to study incidents of suicide in city jails, and said it provides training to jail staff to help them identify prisoners who may be at risk of self-harm.

Hiraldo’s family was represented by the Brooklyn law firm of Talisman & Delorenz, P.C. 

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