This is a summer 2011 contributed photo of April Corritore, who died at 33 on Oct. 20. Corritore had been in the Erie County Prison for about a month when an infection spread to her heart. The infection was the cause of death, according to the Erie County Coroner.

This is a summer 2011 contributed photo of April Corritore, who died at 33 on Oct. 20. Corritore had been in the Erie County Prison for about a month when an infection spread to her heart. The infection was the cause of death, according to the Erie County Coroner.

Lawsuit claims April Corritore’s death could have been prevented with proper medical care at the Erie County Prison.

The sister of an Erie woman who died from an infection during her incarceration at the Erie County Prison has sued the prison’s medical contractor in federal court.

The three-count wrongful death lawsuit alleges that medical providers were deliberately indifferent to April D. Corritore’s worsening condition at the Erie County Prison prior to her death at the Millcreek Community Hospital on Oct. 20.

Corritore’s twin sister, Amber Corritore, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Erie on Tuesday as administrator of April Corritore’s estate.

The complaint names Erie County Prison’s medical contractor, Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources Inc.; Medical Associates of Erie; and two medical staffers as defendants. The complaint states that Wexford Health contracts with Medical Associates of Erie, a LECOM Health physician network, to provide medical director services at the prison.

Wendelyn R. Pekich, a spokeswoman for Wexford Health, declined to comment on the case. A LECOM spokesman did not respond to a call requesting comment.

The suit charges that April Corritore, 33, was suffering from pneumonia when she entered the prison on Sept. 19 and that she received inadequate medical care as her condition continued to decline.

“Throughout the last two weeks of her life, Ms. Corritore made repeated, reasonable requests for medical attention which were denied, the denial of which subjected her to unnecessary and avoidable pain and suffering,” the family’s lawyer, John Mizner, wrote in the 27-page complaint.

Corritore was incarcerated while she awaited prosecution on charges that she stole hydrocodone pills from a man with whom she had gone to an East Sixth Street Rite Aid on Aug. 20, according to court records.

Her death was the subject of an Oct. 28 article in the Erie Times-News in which her family, including Amber Corritore, raised questions about the medical care she received at the Erie County Prison. They also discussed April Corritore’s history as an injection drug user, which made her more susceptible to infections.

The lawsuit charges that Corritore’s medical issues could have been alleviated with proper treatment at the Erie County Prison. Corritore’s condition failed to improve when she was prescribed an antibiotic for pneumonia at the prison, according to the complaint.

Her symptoms continued to worsen until she was sent to the Millcreek Community Hospital from the prison on Oct. 20, according to the complaint. She died later that day of bacterial endocarditis, or an infection of the heart, and septic shock.

The lawsuit requests a judgment of more than $75,000 for each count.

“Everyone knew Ms. Corritore was sick and not responding to antibiotics,” Mizner said in an interview. “Yet no one did anything to determine what was making her so sick or what treatment was needed. Because of their negligent indifference, she suffered a completely avoidable, unnecessary and extremely painful death.”

The complaint also claims that medical staff at Millcreek Community Hospital were not permitted to contact Amber Corritore until her sister was unresponsive and close to death.

During the days and weeks before April Corritore was sent to the hospital, she exhibited symptoms including panting and difficulty breathing, fevers, rapid heart rate and inability to eat, according to the complaint.

Amber Corritore said it was difficult to learn that her sister suffered so much as her illness progressed at the prison.

“I hope to get some sort of justice,” Corritore said Tuesday. “I hope to have something change. ... Somebody needs to be held responsible, not just for her but for everybody else that goes in.”

Original Article By: Madeleine O’Neill can be reached at 870-1728 or by email. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNoneill.