Judge rules immigration agency (ICE) must stand trial in Ng death case

PROVIDENCE — A federal judge has issued a lengthy opinion that shot down a government effort to have U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement dropped from a lawsuit filed by the family of a Chinese national who died while in the custody of the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls.

 

In a 16-page ruling issued Monday, U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith said that the American Civil Liberties Union had presented enough evidence to keep ICE as a defendant in the case.

 

Smith wrote that there was plenty to suggest that ICE was negligent in providing proper care to Hiu Lui “Jason” Ng, the prisoner, who died on Aug. 6, 2008, from liver cancer that had gone undiagnosed until the final days of his life. He also had a fractured spine.

 

Ng had repeatedly complained to corrections and nursing officials at Wyatt about excruciating back pain that had made it nearly impossible for him to walk. Making matters worse, Smith wrote that Ng not only was denied proper medical attention, but that on July 29, 2008, about a week before his death, ICE had him transported by van to Hartford.

 

Smith cited the Ng’s family complaint that the trip was an attempt “to put undue pressure on [Ng] to withdraw all pending appeals in his case and accept deportation.”

 

Fidelma Fitzpatrick, a volunteer lawyer for the ACLU, said that “ICE knew, or should have known, about Ng’s medical condition.”

 

In March, ICE’s lawyer had argued that the federal agency should not be held responsible for the actions of corrections officers, medical staff and prisoners at Wyatt because they had subcontracted the work out to the jail.

 

ICE argued that Ng’s care was the responsibility of Wyatt, not ICE.

 

Smith’s ruling disagreed. He pointed out that there are serious doubts as to whether Ng should have ever been in jail in the first place. Citing the Ng family’s complaint, Smith said that in 1994, Jason Ng’s parents applied for asylum in the United States. A show-cause order was never served on Ng, and it was never filed with the Immigration Court in New York.

 

As a result, he had no knowledge of the order and did not appear in court for a hearing.
By W. Zachary Malinowski
Journal Staff Writer

 

In 2001, Ng married Lin Li “Michelle” Qu and she filed a petition on behalf of her husband regarding his status to remain in the United States. She received no response and, five years later, she resubmitted the petition with the court.

 

At this point, Ng, a certified computer systems engineer, had his own business in New York and the couple had two small sons.

 

On July 19, 2007, Qu and Ng met with ICE officials and Ng was arrested on the basis of the deportation order that he never received six years earlier.

 

He spent the rest of his life bouncing from county jails in Vermont, Massachusetts and, finally, the Wyatt detention center.

 

Meanwhile, Smith is reviewing a videotape that was taken at the Wyatt’s sally port the day that Ng was taken to Hartford. The tape, which has yet to be publicly released, allegedly shows several guards manhandling Ng who is in extreme pain and begging for help.

 

His pleas were ignored. The corrections officers refuse to provide him with a wheelchair and he is dragged into the waiting van.

 

In February 2009, Ng’s wife and sons filed the lawsuit against ICE, the Wyatt jail and a host of others. The Justice Department also has an ongoing criminal civil rights probe into the way Ng was handled by corrections officers and nursing staff in Central Falls.

 

To date, no one has been charged with any crimes.

 

Published on 17/06/2010 09:35:34