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Federal Judge Approves Landmark Settlement to End Violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act

Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York approved a landmark settlement negotiated by Paul, Weiss and a number of legal advocacy groups representing a class of individuals with mental illness residing in adult homes in New York City.

The settlement follows more than a decade of pro bono litigation by Paul, Weiss and co-counsel. In 2009, after a five-week bench trial, in a 210-page decision, Judge Garaufis held that New York's unjustified isolation of individuals with mental illness in adult homes violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (DAI). The United States Department of Justice intervened in the action on behalf of plaintiff after the merits phase. Although the district court's decision was overturned on technical grounds by the Second Circuit, the parties - including the Department of Justice - continued to work together towards a settlement. Pursuant to the settlement, New York has agreed to move up to 4,000 adult home residents to supported housing over the next five years.

In approving the settlement, Judge Garaufis made "special note" of Paul, Weiss's "outstanding and comprehensive advocacy in the DAI case." He also wrote that the relief provided by the settlement was "long overdue" and the lengthy delay in achieving it was "unconscionable."

Many current and former Paul, Weiss partners, associates, staff attorneys, and paralegals have contributed to this success. The current Paul, Weiss team includes litigation partner Andrew Gordon and associates Geoffrey Chepiga, David Leimbach, and Robert O'Loughlin, and staff attorney Francine Murray. The 2009 trial team included Andrew Gordon, Anne Raish, Jonathan Bolton, Gayle Gerson, Ankush Khardori, Sandee Sheldon, Donna Lee, Francine Murray, and former paralegal (now-associate) Brette Tannenbaum. Paul, Weiss's co-counsel are Disability Advocates, Inc., the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, MFY Legal Services, and the Urban Justice Center. Paul, Weiss worked closely with the Department of Justice and the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.

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