On February 24, 2012, in a jail on Long Island, United States Marine veteran Bartholomew Ryan, an American who had seen combat in the Iraq War, hanged himself in his cell. He was 32 years old.
Now, more than five years later, a civil suit surrounding the circumstances of the young service member’s suicide, and the assessment prior to his incarceration for driving while under the influence of drugs charge, reached an apex. A decision.
A federal jury in Nassau County awarded Ryan’s family nearly $8 million for pain and suffering, a sum the healthcare provider at the time, Armor Correctional Health Services, and the county itself is now expected to pay (originally, Ryan’s family — through their legal representation, Nicholas Warywoda — filed for over $10 million in damages).
Due to his battles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction, Ryan was screened and listed as a possible suicide risk prior to his arrest. This, the suit determined, was largely ignored.
But it took 18 hours after Ryan’s admission for a psychiatrist to see him, according to Warywoda. He said that the doctor’s sole diagnosis was opiate dependency, and not PTSD or bipolar disorder, and he didn’t prescribe Ryan any drugs for mental health issues. Six hours later, Ryan was dead.
“If they just listened to that form that deemed him a suicide risk, we wouldn’t be here today,” the attorney said during the trial.
“Thankfully, the jury made a point to tell Armor and the county that’s not how you treat our veterans and people.”
Both Armor and the county say they are exploring their post-trial options.
“I feel that this is justice for [him] … and all veterans,” Ryan’s aunt, Robin Postiglione, told Newsday.