HARRISONBURG — A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed the case against a doctor accused of providing inadequate care to an inmate at the Rockingham County Jail.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg in March 2017 by a branch of Nexus Services Inc. on behalf of a Dayton man, Cary Hixson. It claims jail officials denied the plaintiff essential medication for diabetes during his incarceration.
The lawsuit named as defendants Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson; Capt. Steven Shortell, who operated the jail for the sheriff’s department; Southern Health Partners Inc., which provides medical care at the jail; the city and county; nurses Janelle Seekford and Katherine Raynes; and Dr. Michael Moran.
Since the lawsuit was filed, Judge Michael Urbanski has sporadically dismissed all of the defendants except Moran. Wednesday’s ruling clears the doctor.
Urbanski ruled that Moran’s actions amounted to a medically based judgment call, not a refusal to provide medication.
“Dr. Moran’s care of Hixson and his decision to monitor his diabetes and treat him with diet rather than medication cannot constitute deliberate indifference,” Urbanski wrote in his ruling. “Dr. Moran’s daily monitoring of Hixson’s blood sugar readings shows that he was not deliberately indifferent to Hixson’s medical condition.”
The lawsuit sought unspecified punitive damages. An amended complaint filed April 17 removed Hutcheson and Shortell as defendants.
The city and county were added as defendants because Hixson’s attorneys said they are the fiscal agents for the jail, and Moran and Hutcheson “could have been acting on behalf of either or both of those entities.”
Both governments were later dismissed.
“[A] municipality is not the operator of the jail, and cannot be held liable ... for the policies instituted by the jail,” Urbanski wrote at the time.
Verona-based Nexus has sued or backed lawsuits against several local and federal governments, officials and police agencies in recent years, including one dropped against the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office. In that case, a federal judge ordered the company to pay more than $30,000 of the defendant’s legal fees.
Additional cases have been filed against the Middle River Regional Jail in Verona, Augusta County Commissioner of the Revenue Jean Shrewsbury and Gene Ergenbright, a part-time tax auditor for the Augusta County and Harrisonburg commissioners of the revenue. All were later dismissed.