Judge: DHR does not have to provide documents in drug testing lawsuit
The Alabama Department of Human Resources has won an early round of a what could be a long legal battle between a Pike County woman and the state agency that took her children.
TROY, Ala. (WTVY) -The Alabama Department of Human Resources has won an early round of a what could be a long legal battle between a Pike County woman and the state agency that took her children based on documents forged by one of its contract workers.
A Pike County judge ruled last week that DHR does not have to turn over confidential files involving third parties that are sought by Jennifer Severs’ attorneys as part of a lawsuit she filed against DHR, lab owner Brandy Murrah, and others.
Severs lost custody of her three children after Murrah submitted forged drug test results showing Severs had used methamphetamine and marijuana. She passed a subsequent drug test, using another provider.
Per court testimony, Severs became angry over what had happened and tracked down the Florida doctor whose name Murrah signed and he confirmed the forgery.
Severs then presented her findings to DHR but the agency failed to act, the civil lawsuit claims.
A separate, criminal investigation resulted in Ozark police charging Murrah with numerous crimes involving falsified drug test results. Her lab was in Ozark.
As part of the lawsuit, Severs’ attorneys asked Judge Sonny Reagan to force DHR to surrender the confidential documents, a motion he denied.
“The plaintiff’s motion to compel the production of third-party confidential State documents from (several agency employees) is denied,” Reagan ruled Friday.
DHR argued that Severs attorney, Chip Nix, sought the documents from DHR employees who are not authorized to hand them over.
However, Nix told Judge Reagan that he believes DHR is trying to slow the case because it fears a plethora of other lawsuits if documents are released before statue of limitations expire.
Nix estimates that “hundreds” have been victimized by Murrah and DHR.
Severs attorneys still have the option of seeking the documents through subpoenas.
Severs, who ultimately regained custody of her children, is seeking unspecified damages.
Murrah is serving a 15-year prison sentence after pleading guilty.
She apparently forged test results because she had failed to pay testing labs who would no longer perform the tests for her.
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