Two lawsuits filed in death of Luis Cabrera

Two lawsuits have been filed against Connections Community Support Programs in the November 8, 2018 death of 49-year-old Luis Cabrera.

Cabrera, who was convicted of two murders in 1996, died while serving life in prison at Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington. He was moved there following the February 2017 riot at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna.

He was part of a class action suit against the Department of Correction that alleged gross mistreatment of prisoners following the riot, and a potential witness in trials against inmates involved. Due to perceived futility, the Department of Justice stopped prosecuting inmates in May.

Connections is a nonprofit that, according to its website, provides healthcare to more than 6,500 people held in the Delaware Department of Correction’s prison system.

Nurses’ notes reveal that Cabrera began complaining of extreme pain in his abdomen November 5, 2017, but the notes are inconsistent over the following few days. While some state that Cabrera was curled in the fetal position, crying and “screaming and banging,” others say the pain was “resolved” or that “patient did not voice any concerns.”

At 4:15 a.m. on November 8, officers opened the flap on Cabrera’s cell door so a nurse could ask if she could take his vitals. He said yes, but couldn’t get off his knees and move to the door, so the nurse eventually moved on to the next patient.

Around 4:25 a.m., the nurse asked an officer to open Cabrera’s door to “ask if he was alive.” He was not.

According to an autopsy, Cabrera died of a perforated stomach ulcer, which is generally treated by emergency surgery. However, with a timely diagnosis and medication, perforation is usually avoided.

Cabrera’s wife, Stephanie, and adult daughter, Ashley, filed a lawsuit against Connections and state officials earlier this month.

According to court document from that case, “CCSP medical providers inexplicably ignored all of the warning signs that Mr. Cabrera had a perforation, peritonitis, or sepsis and decided that Luis was faking his symptoms. The CCSP medical providers failed to send Mr. Cabrera for necessary evaluations and treatment even though his signs and symptoms were consistent with an emergency.”

Another lawsuit was filed this month by a former employee of Connections Community Support Programs. A nurse that attended to Cabrera in his final days, Tracey Crews, alleges the company wrongfully terminated her after she protested his treatment.

Her attorney is Chris Johnson, a partner at The Igwe Firm in Wilmington.

“Connections’ lack of proper oversight at HYCI lead to the death of Luis Cabrera, plain and simple,” he said. “When Ms. Crews complained about what she believed to be blatant inmate maltreatment, she was silenced and ultimately fired. Our lawsuit is intended to clear her name and to hold Connections accountable for the alleged misconduct.”