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Paul, Weiss Clients Enter Landmark Settlement to End Violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act

As reported in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, 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 have entered a landmark settlement to end New York State's decades long discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This settlement follows more than a decade of pro bono litigation challenging the State's practice of mental health administration. The current system unnecessarily isolates individuals with mental illness in segregated adult homes instead of providing mental health services in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs.

In 2009, after a five-week bench trial, in a 210-page decision, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York held that New York's unjustified isolation of individuals with mental illness in adult homes violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. 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 agreed to move up to 4,000 adult home residents to supported housing over the next five years.

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 Julie Fink and Geoffrey Chepiga. 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 United States Attorneys Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Department of Justice.

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