HARRISONBURG VA Feb 9 2017 — Two former inmates have filed federal lawsuits against Middle River Regional Jail for constitutional rights violations stemming from their treatment at the Verona jail and the failure to receive critical medications they needed on a daily basis.
Named as a defendant in both lawsuits are the Middle River Regional Jail Authority and Dr. Moises Quinones, a medical doctor who formerly worked at the jail. Middle River Regional Jail Superintendent Jack Lee is a defendant in one of the suits.
The lawsuits were filed in January in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg on behalf of former inmates Alvion Cashion and Mateen Haleem by lawyers for Nexus Caridades. Nexus Caridades is a legal services business in the family of companies of Nexus Services of Verona.
Nexus Services and the the civil rights group A.R.M.E.D. (Americans Resisting Minority and Ethnic Discrimination) held a press conference on Monday in Harrisonburg to discuss the lawsuits.
Haleem was held for three months in 2016 at Middle River. He goes on trial later this month in Augusta County Circuit Court on a charge of selling and providing resale of a schedule I/II substance, and a probation violation.
His attorney charges violations of the Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Haleem said he was denied seizure medication, causing blackouts as well as narcotic pain medication for broken vertebrae, a torn disc and two pinched nerves in his back. Haleem also said in the complaint excessive force was used because he complained about "rotten and maggot-filled food" served at the jail.
The result, according to allegations in the suit, was that jail officers used pepper spray and cuffed his hands, causing a finger to become mangled and broken. Quinones and the Middle River Regional Jail Authority are cited as defendants in this suit. Punitive damages and attorney fees are asked for, but no specific dollar amount.
Cashion, who was being held at Middle River for mental health-related law violations in Augusta County, is charging an Eighth Amendment U.S. Constitution violation. Cashion's complaint is that the jail failed to provide his anti-psychotic medication Prolixin. Prolixin is a medication Cashion has received for 12 years.
The suit says that Jail Superintendent Lee has implemented a policy of denying inmate requests for prescription medications with respect to current, diagnosed and serious medical conditions. According to the suit, no other medication was given Cashion during his incarceration, and he is said to have had a psychotic breakdown that included "beating his head against the wall and experiencing severe body pain."
Punitive damages and attorney fees are sought on behalf of Cashion.
Nexus Services CEO Mike Donovan said during the Monday press conference that his company has been investigating Middle River Regional Jail for the past year. Nexus provides GPS services and bond services to immigrant detainees and has its corporate headquarters in Verona.
Donovan said a hotline set up by Nexus resulted in 200 complaints from inmates at the Verona regional jail. Last summer, Nexus Caridades sued in both circuit court and federal court over the jail food provided to inmates. Nexus said inmates were consuming food with rocks in it and food that was spoiled. The food was causing the inmates to have chipped and broken teeth, the lawsuit said.
Donovan called the two lawsuits for Haleem and Cashion "not the first'' complaints against the jail, and he said they will not be the last. Donovan said it "is not okay'' to violate the consitutional rights of people while they are detained in jail.
Donovan called for an independent review board to look at Middle River Regional Jail's superintendent Lee and whether charges should be brought against him.
Lee "should resign or be terminated" from his position at the jail, according to Donovan.
Roger Wiley, the Richmond-based attorney whose firm represents Middle River Regional Jail, said the lawsuit has been passed on to the state agency that provides insurance to the jail.
Wiley said he could not under law discuss any inmate's medical condition or treatment.
The jail authority includes representatives of all five communities for which the jail houses inmates. The communities include the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, and Harrisonburg, Augusta and Rockingham counties.