22 Rikers Island Prisoners Sickened By Rat Poison in Meatloaf, Lawyer Says

PHOTO: The Rikers Island jail complex is pictured on June 11, 2014 in New York City. Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo
The Rikers Island jail complex is pictured on June 11, 2014 in New York City.

Twenty-two Rikers Island inmates in New York City say they ate meatloaf tainted with rat poison, according to their lawyer, who has filed suit against the city, the Department of Corrections and several others.

Several inmates at the Ann M. Kross Center, a housing facility on Rikers Island, were on lockdown on March 3 when they were served meatloaf that they said had a blue-green substance in it, according to the complaint filed by attorney Joann Squillace told ABC News on the inmates' behalf.

Soon, they said they began to feel sick, having headaches like nausea, headaches, bloody diarrhea and bloody vomit, but they did not get the medical attention they needed, and their requests to have their blood and urine tested for poison went unanswered, according to the complaint.

"Whether it was intentional or negligence, either way, no there's no justification for it and the Department of Corrections has to be held accountable," Squillace told ABC News.

She said one of her clients continues to throw up blood even though this happened nearly two months ago.

She said a department employee oversees the kitchen and is aided by two elected inmates from the housing facility who were not allowed to do their kitchen duties the day of the alleged poisoning.

One of the inmate saved a piece of the meatloaf, which Squillace said she sent off to a New Jersey lab called EMSL Analytical Inc. for testing. It came back positive for brodifacoum, or rat poison, according to the report she provided to ABC News.

Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesman for the New York City Law Department, said Squillace hasn't submitted her lab results to the city.

"The bottom line here is we don't know all the facts, and we can't jump to conclusions," he said. "It's an ongoing investigation and we'll know more as we proceed in the case."

In a response memorandum, the city said the inmates would "not suffer irreparable harm" because the medical staff treated them when the alleged poisoning occurred and determined they did not show "signs of adverse medical effects of a toxic ingestion."

They went on to say there were no further incidents, and that in the days following the alleged incident, the kitchen was inspected and no rat poison was found in unsecured areas.