A federal judge says the manufacturer of a roadside drug test is not responsible for a false result that landed a woman in the Monroe County jail for three months.
In November, 13WMAZ reported that Dasha Fincher said she was jailed for three months because the test, called Nark II, falsely labeled blue cotton candy as methamphetamine.
Last week, Judge Tillman Self ruled that Fincher's lawsuit failed to cite any evidence that the manufacturer, Sirchie Acquistion Company, created a defective product.
He also rejected their arguments that the company failed to warn law enforcement about the product's flaws.
Self dismissed Sirchie from the case, although the lawsuit against Monroe County and the two deputies is still pending in the U.S. District Court in Macon.
In their response, Sirchie's lawyers argue that "dangerous" false results alone don't make the manufacturer liable.
"Plenty of products are dangerous," they wrote. "Much more so than a drug test kit gone wrong. A chainsaw, for example, can kill quite easily, even if used properly. So can cars, guns, a cornucopia of pharmaceuticals and any number of other products. Dangerous does not equal defect though."
They also argue that Sirchie never claimed that their test was perfect.
"Field drug tests are not marketed as unfailingly correct, much like cars are never said to unfailingly get you from Point A to Point B. Instead, police use them to provide a data point in determining whether probable cause to arrest exists (or not)...Rather than having officers arrest based on a hunch (i.e., "that looks like marijuana to me"), field tests give officers a real-time, science-based (if not infallible) method for deciding whether they can constitutionally arrest someone."
Sirchie's lawyers also argued that the Nark II kit contains a warning that no kit was foolproof and that drugs should be tested and identified at a lab.
In November, Dasha Fincher told 13WMAZ that it happened after a traffic stop on New Year's Eve in 2016.
Deputies said they stopped the car Fincher was riding in because of its dark window tint, but later admitted that the windows were legal.
Fincher said when Monroe deputies Cody Maples and Allen Henderson saw a large open plastic bag inside the car, she told them it contained blue cotton candy but they didn't believe her.
The deputies used the Nark II test that said there was meth in the bag.
Fincher was arrested and charged with meth trafficking and possession ot meth with intent to distribute.
A judge set her bond at $1 million, her lawsuit said, but Fincher remained in jail because she couldn't pay the cash bond.
In March 2017, GBI lab tests came back to say that the substance in the bag was not an illegal drug. The charges against Fincher were dropped four weeks later, in April 2017.
Fincher's lawsuit argues that the Monroe County Sheriff's Office was reckless and negligent and violated her civil rights.
It also claims that Maples and Henderson were not properly trained in using the test.
Monroe County has not filed a response to the lawsuit and no trial date has been set.