Today, the federal District Court of Massachusetts rejected a motion to dismiss and ruled against the Salvation Army’s Eastern Territory in a case challenging the Salvation Army’s discriminatory policy of denying access to medication for opioid use disorder (“MOUD”) for people in its Adult Rehabilitation Centers (“ARCs”). The court’s ruling allows the plaintiffs’ case to continue under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) and Rehabilitation Act in 12 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
“This is a huge victory for those seeking treatment for opioid use disorder, and we are thrilled that the Court saw the value of our case and ruled against the Salvation Army’s motion to dismiss,” said Lucy Bansal Counsel at Justice Catalyst Law, an attorney for plaintiffs Tassinari and Espinosa.
“This case challenges the Salvation Army’s discriminatory history and ongoing practice of denying services to those taking prescribed medication for opioid use disorder,” said Matthew Murray, partner at Altshuler Berzon LLP and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “We look forward to continuing the case and moving to discovery under the FHA and Rehabilitation Act, two of our nation’s most important anti-discrimination laws protecting individuals with disabilities, as we seek justice on behalf of our clients.”
The class action lawsuit challenges a policy prohibiting individuals with opioid use disorder – which is a disability protected by federal law – from accessing MOUD in the Salvation Army’s ARCs. The Salvation Army’s ARC program is a nationwide network of facilities that provide services for individuals with substance use disorders. The plaintiffs, all of whom suffer from opioid use disorder, allege that the Salvation Army interfered with their ability to use doctor-prescribed MOUD during their participation in ARC programming in violation of the FHA and the Rehabilitation Act. The plaintiffs are also represented by Christine Salazar of Altshuler Berzon LLP and Pilar Gonzalez Morales of Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center.