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United States Supreme Court to Consider whether the Americans with Disabilities Act Allows the State of Tennessee to Continue to Overtly Discriminate Against Disabled Persons Addicted to Opioids, and whether the City of Johnson City, TN (like many TN…

NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 16, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On May 31, 2018, James A. Dunlap Jr. & Associates LLC and the Higgins Firm PLLC filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, on behalf of their clients, asking the Supreme Court of the United States to find that the State of Tennessee’s facially discriminatory rules, and the City of Johnson City, TN’s forcing disabled persons into “disabled ghettos” for treatment for opioid addiction, violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and .”  Tri-Cities Holdings, LLC v. Tenn. Admin. Proc. Division, Nos. 17-5628/17-6046, 2018 WL 1100316 (6th Cir. Feb. 28, 2018), U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 17-1635.

/EIN News/ -- “Our clients, that include eight disabled persons addicted to opioids, contend that Tennessee Code Section 68-11-1607(c)(3) facially discriminates against the disabled without any rational basis and that it imposes procedural burdens and costs only upon the disabled (certified mail costs of $24.44 alone, with potential voiding of the Certificate of Need application, and loss of $3,000 filing fee for non-compliance), and operates to galvanize local opposition to clinics serving the disabled, and burdens expansion of treatment of opioid addiction.  Our clients also contend that Johnson City’s zoning ordinance (Ord. 4573-15) forces disabled persons into less than one percent (1%) of the available land area of the city—essentially creating “disabled ghettos,” as do many cities in Tennessee. This is a continuing violation of the ADA and our clients should have prospective injunctive and declaratory relief from this discrimination.”  said Petitioners’ counsel James A. Dunlap Jr.

“Disabled persons are victims of Tennessee’s systematic discrimination that denies them reasonable access to treatment for opioid addiction.  We respectfully disagree with the Sixth Circuit that found that the ADA allows Tennessee’s facial discrimination against the disabled because it was “small” and “done quietly” so as to not cause “opprobrium.”  Rather, we believe any facial discrimination without a rational basis violates the ADA.   In the midst of the worst epidemic in American history, an epidemic projected to kill more than 1,000,000 Americans nationwide, and 30,000 in Tennessee alone, in the next decade, we are urging the Supreme Court will step forward to stop Tennessee’s discriminatory rules from continuing to block and burden standard of care opioid treatment,” said Mr. Dunlap.

“We also believe that effectively forcing disabled persons, including pregnant women, to drive 100+ miles roundtrip to the nearest standard of care clinic to the nearest standard of care clinic in North Carolina, over dangerous roads, and in all weather conditions, as often daily, a situation requiring a disabled person to drive some 20,000 back and forth in the first year of treatment, or face no treatment, or price-gouging by the one monopoly provider of standard of care treatment, violates the ADA.  As recently as last year, more than 1,000 Johnson City, TN area residents were forced to make this grueling, potentially deadly drive, as often as daily.  North Carolina officials described this mass movement of some 1,000 disabled persons daily from east Tennessee to the nearest clinics in North Carolina “a migration,”  said Mr. Dunlap.

“Tennessee has sustained some 10,000 opioid overdose deaths in the last decade.  Some 30,000 more Tennesseeans are projected to die of opioid overdoses over the next decade.  Yet the State of Tennessee continues to discriminate against disabled persons by making expansion of treatment virtually impossible.  In fact, only one net new standard of care addiction clinic has been licensed in Tennessee in the last decade, despite more than 69,000 addicts in Tennessee in need of immediate treatment according to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service.  The state presently has only 13 standard of care clinics (about 5,700 potential patients per clinic).  While licensing 75% fewer standard of care clinics than neighboring states, Tennessee has sustained a 60% higher per capita opioid overdose death rate.  So it’s no surprise that because of such a shortage of treatment, Tennessee continues to be an opioid overdose disaster area,” said Mr. Dunlap.

“I invite any and all disability rights groups to step forward and file amicus briefs with Supreme Court on this important case.  I also urge the Department of Justice to take action under the ADA to eliminate widespread barriers to treatment for opioid addiction that exist throughout Tennessee at the state and local level.  Without expansion of treatment, the opioid slaughterhouse in Tennessee, and elsewhere, will continue unabated,” said Mr. Dunlap.

Jim Dunlap, Principal
James A. Dunlap Jr. & Associates LLC
4403 Northside Parkway NW Suite 1413
Atlanta, Georgia 30327
Phone: 404-354-2363
Fax: 404-745-0195

Source: James A. Dunlap Jr. & Associates LLC

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