Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Monday, March 11, 2013


At the Times Union,
silence is deafening

By David Baker
Posted Monday March, 11, 2013

Once again the Albany Times Union is demonstrating its selective reporting, with another story about a medical-malpractice lawsuit over the death of a prisoner while it continues its 12-year silence on similar lawsuits filed against its advertisers.

This latest story is about Irene Bamenga, 29, a French citizen who had applied for a permanent visa but was detained by US immigration authorities as she tried, with her husband, to cross the US border into Canada to catch a flight to France.  She was here illegally because a temporary visa had expired several years earlier. She was moved to the Albany County Correctional Facility, where she became unwell and died.

Bamenga’s husband has filed a lawsuit against Correctional Medical Services, which was contracted by Albany County to provide medical services to the jail.  The lawsuit also names Albany and Allegany counties and Albany County sheriff Craig Apple.

The TU says that last fall it obtained a copy of a report of an investigation of the death by the state Commission on Correction, which concluded it was from natural causes. The report, the paper says, was heavily redacted.  The TU later acquired an unredacted copy.  It also obtained a copy of a 154-page report of a federal immigration department investigation, which said that six medications Bamenga was prescribed for a serious heart condition were not given to her over several days, and that a nurse wrote in a medical record that on some occasions this was because Bamenga was a “no-show.”

A link to the TU story appears below.  It is, of course, newsworthy.  But so was a story that appeared on this page back in 2011, about the death of Joseph Bartoski, a patient in Samaritan Hospital in Troy.

The story revealed the conclusions of an investigation by the state Health Department in documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request. The documents showed that both a doctor and a nurse had admitted that they failed to flush out a blood thinner from a medication dispenser before using it to administer another medication, causing Bartoski to twice receive huge doses of the thinner, the second one while medical staff were frantically trying to reverse the effects of the first dose.

The story noted that despite these admissions Samaritan Hospital and the doctor were continuing to fight a lawsuit brought by Bartoski’s widow.  A later story on this page reported that the lawsuit was settled just before trial for $350,000.

None of this has ever been mentioned by the Times Union.

Also not reported by the TU was a lawsuit that was eventually settled about the wife of a well-known retired politician who had a personal and family history of a heart condition who died less than an hour after a doctor in the emergency room at Albany Memorial Hospital had conducted a cursory examination and sent her home. The doctor was later stripped of his license, in part because of his negligence in this case.

The TU reported on the revocation;  it never said a word about the lawsuit against its advertiser.

But it did cover a case that also was reported here that had remarkably similar allegations, over the death of 39-year-old Laura Woolsey, who had just had heart surgery and was in the Schenectady County Jail.

Both were newsworthy. The one against a jail and its contractor – neither of them advertisers – got several stories and a scathing editorial.  The other one, against Memorial Hospital, was ignored.

The TU story is HERE

More stories about unreported lawsuits are linked at this blog's sister website:



I am now back from a visit to the U.K., during which my mother passed away at the age of 89.  An author of several books and a tireless campaigner for parental rights, she was a remarkable person whose determination and courage changed the lives of thousands of people in Britain. May she rest in peace.