The most expensive meatloaf ever served on Rikers Island came with a hard-to-swallow $378,000 tab for the city.
Twenty-one inmates settled a federal lawsuit with the city after charging the tainted March 2015 lunch caused vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding and fainting among the captive diners.
The city, eager to get the case off its plate, will serve up checks of $17,650 to 20 plaintiffs and $25,000 to one of the victims, the Daily News has learned.
The Brooklyn federal court lawsuit alleged the meatloaf cooked up at the Anna M. Kross Center contained a special ingredient: Bluish-green pellets of rat poison.
Days after the lawsuit was filed, city officials admitted seeing the blue and green specks. But a confession to serving the squalid slices of meatloaf?
They won’t do that. The settlement came without an admission of guilt from the city.
“We couldn’t determine conclusively how this unusual incident occurred, and continuing to litigate would not have been in the city’s best interest,” said a city Law Department spokeswoman.
The inmates, in their lawsuit, charged the malevolent meal left more than a bad taste in their mouths. In addition to their ailments, the prisoners accused the Department of Correction of blocking any medical treatment for the sick inmates.
Their requests for blood and urine samples that would presumably show traces of the poison were rejected by correction staff, the lawsuit charged.
At the time of the meatloaf mystery, the housing area in the Kross Center was under a three-day lockdown instituted for inmate assaults on staffers — including alleged sexual contact with a female correction officer.
Inmate Troy Siddons, in a deposition accompanying the lawsuit, recounted the day of their fateful if not particularly mouth-watering lunch.
“I received a meal consisting of … juice, vegetables/cabbage and meatloaf,” said Siddons. “After consuming the foregoing meal, I began to feel sick.
“I remain deeply concerned about the long-lasting effects of this foreign substance in my body and blood … (It) is causing me mental and emotional pain and distress.”
Inmate Quincy Palmer said his stomach felt like it was on “f—-g fire.” And Ellis Wilson, according to the suit, said he felt hot and woozy before vomiting and having chest pains.
A correction officer was accused of mocking the sickened inmates and flipping them the bird after they complained.
Plaintiffs’ attorney JoAnn Squillace said she and her clients were pleased with the agreement.
The lawyer expressed her hope that the city “will become more vigilant” in protecting the safety and rights of its inmates — while ensuring they don’t become targets for retribution.
Patricia Feeney, the Correction Department’s assistant commissioner for environmental health, insisted in an affidavit that kitchen conditions were sanitary.
She acknowledged seeing “visible green and blue specks of an unknown substance” on a sample of the meatloaf.
Still, Feeney said, she couldn’t find a match when she searched the jail’s exterminator shop for a rat poisoning that matched the one described by the inmates.
Inmates’ lawyer Squillace had the entrée analyzed. The lab report found Brodifacoum, an anti-coagulant marketed as rodenticide, she said.
But the Department of Investigation did its own review and couldn’t point to definitive evidence the inmates were poisoned.
The department said it was “unsubstantiated” to allege that Department of Correction staff put in rat poison in the chow.
The report was sealed by a judge while the meatloaf litigation kept percolating. But Judge Roslynn Mauskopf signed off Wednesday on the settlement.