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Clinic drops suit against sheriff#039;s department

A lawsuit filed earlier this year against the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Tim Sexton has been dismissed.

Portsmouth Attorney Gary Billiter, representing Rocky Road Enterprises, owners of the Iron Rock Medical Clinic, requested the dismissal Oct. 10. Billiter did not give a reason why the group wanted to drop the lawsuit when he requested the dismissal. The Ironton Tribune called Billiter's office and got an answering machine. A message was left asking that Billiter return the call, but it was not returned by press time.

Sexton said he was pleased that the lawsuit was dropped.

The lawsuit against Sexton and the Sheriff's Office was filed June 14. In the suit, Billiter alleged that Sexton and his deputies made defamatory statements about the clinic and interfered with the clinic's ability to operate as a business.

The lawsuit further alleged that Sexton and others harassed clinic employees and patients and

used "coercive tactics" to "discourage … patients from patronizing Plaintiff's place of business." The Lawrence County Board of Commissioners was also named as a defendant in the suit.

"There were concerns from day one, concerns from law enforcement and concerns addressed to me from Lawrence County residents, many who resided near this facility," Sexton said.

Residents who live and drive in the area around the State Route 93 facility objected to the heavy traffic in and out of the clinic.

They also expressed concerns about procedures at the clinic that did not fit the standard practices of other physician's offices. At one time, the clinic did not accept medical insurance and required patients to pay $250 in cash for office visits. People living near the clinic also expressed concerns about why a doctor's clinic needed security guards.

Sexton said he and his deputies were doing their jobs by responding to the concerns.

"If illegal activity is occurring and is reported, we have a duty to investigate these complaints," Sexton said. "If a person does observe any criminal conduct, I would encourage them to report this to our agency."

Sexton said concerns about traffic problems should be addressed to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

A paid advertisement in The Ironton Tribune states that the Ironton Rock Medical Clinic is "under new management."