Lawsuit filed against HRRJ, Norfolk sheriff in inmate death


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — An inmate who died in October complained of overwhelming stomach pain and bloody vomit to the correctional and medical staffs at two local jails in the days and weeks before her death.

Now her father is suing the leadership of both jails and their medical provider for nearly $10 million. He claims that his daughter’s medical symptoms were apparent and severe, but no one took her to the hospital until she became unresponsive.

Regina Marie Honeycutt was unresponsive and in respiratory arrest when she was taken from the Hampton Roads Regional Jail to Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center on Oct. 6. She’d just been transferred to the HRRJ from the Norfolk City Jail the day before, according to a federal lawsuit filed this week.

Honeycutt was too unstable to undergo a needed surgery and died at the hospital on Oct. 7 after going into septic shock due to a bowel perforation caused by colon cancer, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit was filed by Honeycutt’s father, Timothy Caramillo, against the HRRJ Authority, HRRJ Superintendent David Hackworth, Norfolk Sheriff Joseph Baron, the jail’s medical provider Correct Care Solutions, LLC, and other individual medical professionals.

Previous coverage: HRRJ inmate asked judge to send her to drug rehab program a month before she died

Hackworth declined to comment on the litigation and told 10 On Your Side that he hadn’t been served with the lawsuit as of Monday afternoon. A spokesperson for the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office said as of Tuesday morning the organization hadn’t been served with the lawsuit either.

Mark Krudys, who is Caramillo’s attorney, also declined to comment on the lawsuit.

In the days and weeks before she died, Honeycutt complained of symptoms like intense stomach pain, constipation, and bloody vomit to the correctional and medical staffs at the Norfolk City Jail and the HRRJ. She was given medication to treat the constipation, but wasn’t taken to the hospital despite her other symptoms, the lawsuit alleges.

Eight days before she died, while she was still at the Norfolk City Jail, a medical professional noted that Honeycutt had abnormal vital signs, including a pulse of 157 beats-per-minute. Although the findings were abnormal, a nurse marked her issues as “not urgent” and told Honeycutt to drink more fluids and increase her activity level, the lawsuit states.

Honeycutt began to complain of stomach pain to staff at the Norfolk City Jail in mid-September. Inmates said that she seemed to be losing weight, her skin was gray in color, and that they watched her throw up bloody vomit numerous times, according to the lawsuit.

“H-E-L-P me Please,” Honeycutt wrote in one of her medical request forms.

Honeycutt was seen by medical staff at the Norfolk City Jail on Sept. 29 where a LPN noted that she was vomiting undigested food particles, complaining of cramping, and reported that her pain was a “10 out of 10,” the lawsuit alleges.

The LPN labeled her condition as “not emergent” and told her to increase her fluid intake and activity level, according to the lawsuit.

The next day Honeycutt was placed in isolation after saying she wanted to commit suicide. During a mental health evaluation, Honeycutt admitted that she wasn’t suicidal but that she was throwing up and not feeling well. The lawsuit alleges that her claim of being suicidal was a “desperate attempt to obtain medical treatment” after she’d been ignored by staff.

The lawsuit claims that Honeycutt wasn’t seen by a nurse before she was transferred to the HRRJ. When she was assessed at the HRRJ, she had a racing heart rate, elevated blood pressure, nausea and abdominal pain.

A doctor at the HRRJ didn’t send her to the hospital even though she had a tender and rigid abdomen, the lawsuit alleged. He decided to do x-rays and testing on Honeycutt at the jail, and sent her to general population even though the results of her tests were irregular, including blood appearing in her urine, according to the lawsuit.

EMS was called by HRRJ staff on Oct. 6 around 11:12 p.m. EMS workers found Honeycutt unresponsive and having difficulty breathing. A prison guard said Honeycutt had been in the medical wing for about 4 hours before EMS was called. A nurse’s report offered conflicting information, stating that Honeycutt had only been in the medical for about 45 minutes, the lawsuit states.

EMS wrote in its report that they did find a nurse with Honeycutt when they arrived at the jail, but no medical professionals were intervening to treat her critical condition. The jail’s nurse wasn’t able to tell EMS how long Honeycutt had been unresponsive, the lawsuit alleges.

Doctors at the hospital found a cancer mass on Honeycutt’s colon that was the size of an “apple core.” It created a blockage, which lead to the perforation of her bowel. About a liter of fecal matter leaked into Honeycutt’s abdomen, which caused her to go into septic shock, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Honeycutt’s cancer hadn’t spread and was treatable, and that she wouldn’t have died if she’d been taken to the hospital sooner.

“Indeed, she had the most treatable form of colon cancer,” the lawsuit states.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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