On June, 24th, the Times-News published an article on one of attorney Bowlin's court cases regarding a wrongful arrest that took place last year during the Rainbow Family Gathering in Cherokee National Forest.
Last June, our client, a 60-year-old West Virginia man was attempting to attend the Rainbow Family Gathering in Cherokee National Forest. However, his attempt to attend this peaceful gathering was interrupted when he was stopped for an alleged seatbelt violation on Flatwoods Road. Our client was erroneously arrested after police believed he was transporting $90,000 worth of methamphetamines and liquid THC.
After a Sullivan County grand jury cleared him of all charges last November, we filed court documents Friday with the U.S. District Court in Greenville seeking over $1.5 million in damages for the losses he incurred as a result of his wrongful arrest. We filed a lawsuit against Sullivan County and the companies that provided the field drug testing kits that were used by law enforcement.
The field testing kits used by officers from the Sullivan County Sherriff's Office allegedly revealed that our client was transporting meth and liquid THC. He was later booked in jail while nine substances were seized from his vehicle and sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation lab. Further testing revealed that the substances seized from his vehicle were not narcotics.
The arrest still left our client incarcerated for three weeks and since he was perceived as a flight risk, he wasn't able to secure a bond from a local agency. The materials that the police seized from him, a self-described herbalist and naturalist, were merely a mixture of cornstarch and aromatic oil he planned to serve as insect repellant.
Our client lives on an environmental co-op farm in West Virginia, he was attempting to attend the Rainbow Family of Light's national gathering for prayer and world peace. It is estimated that 7,000 attended this event at its peak on July 4th.
Attorney Troy L. Bowlin is representing the West Virginia man in both lawsuits. "What is happening is that law enforcement are utilizing a field test drug kit which has been marketed and misrepresented as a valid test for whether or not something may or may not be a controlled substance," said Mr. Bowlin. "In Mr. Sullivan's case, it incorrectly indicated it was methamphetamine."
In one of the lawsuits filed against the county and other defendants we are seeking in excess of $500,000 in compensation, punitive damages, fees and interest. The other lawsuit is seeking in excess of $1 million and it's been filed against the manufacturers and distributors of the drug field testing kit that incorrectly identified the materials as narcotics. Since these drug testing kits are advertised and marketed as "about 99% reliable," our lawsuit argues that's an intentional and reckless misrepresentation without regard to the rights of the general public. Attorney Bowlin told Times-News that our client is not the only victim. "Hundreds of people have been incarcerated." To view entire
If you have been wrongfully arrested for a crime, we urge you to contact The Bowlin Law Firm to schedule a consultation with a Morristown
criminal defense attorney to discuss your criminal charges.