Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Class Action Filed Against Hospital ER for Outrageously Overcharging Rural Florida Residents for Routine Scans After Auto Accidents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - August 22, 2017
Crestview, FL – Today, a class action lawsuit has been filed against North Okaloosa Medical Center (“NOMC”), one of only a few hospitals in Okaloosa County, Florida, for outrageously overcharging victims of automobile accidents for CT Scans performed in its emergency department.  This private hospital, owned by Tennessee-based Community Health Systems (CHS), charges patients who have been in automobile accidents up to 50 times more than other ER patients for the same scans and up to 718% more than auto accident victims who are treated by other ERs in the same community for the same services.  These charges also represent an astonishing 10,000% markup over the hospital’s Medicare-allowable costs for those scans.
George Washington MacNeil, a long-time resident of Okaloosa County, has brought this lawsuit on behalf of himself and other victims of NOMC’s egregious overbilling practices.  Last Fall, Mr. MacNeil was involved in an automobile accident, causing him serious injuries.  More bad luck befell him after paramedics rushed him to the closest hospital – NOMC.  After three hours, and four routine CT Scans, Mr. MacNeil was sent home to recover, only to be shocked weeks later when an invoice from NOMC arrived, charging him over $40,000 for the four scans that were performed.  “I was a victim twice over that day.  To think a hospital, a place that is supposed to protect and heal you, would take advantage of me and other car accident victims like this is unthinkable,” said Mr. MacNeil.
By charging automobile accident victims exorbitant amounts for CT Scans, the hospital has violated the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, which prohibits hospitals from charging such victims unreasonable amounts for medically necessary services.  “We are seeking a declaration from the Court that these charges violate the law, and commend Mr. MacNeil for taking a stand on behalf of his friends and neighbors who also were overcharged for CT Scans in the emergency department following a car accident,” said attorney Richard Bennett.
Plaintiff George Washington MacNeil is represented by Bennett & Bennett, the Social Justice Law Collective, and local counsel Powell, Powell & Powell, of Crestview, Florida.  The lawsuit was filed in Okaloosa County Circuit Court and is entitled George Washington MacNeil v. Crestview Hospital Corporation, d/b/a North Okaloosa Medical Center.
CONTACT:
Richard Bennett, Bennett & Bennett
(305) 444-5925, richardbennett27@gmail.com, www.bennettlawmiami.com

Joshua Glickman, Social Justice Law Collective
(913) 213-3064, josh@sjlawcollective.com, www.sjlawcollective.com


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Thursday, April 28, 2016

SJLC and ACLU File Class Action Lawsuit to End Unconstitutional Postcard-only Mail Policy at Wilson County Jail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - April 28, 2016

Kansas City, KS - The ACLU Foundation of Kansas and the Social Justice Law Collective (SJLC) today announced the filing of a federal class action lawsuit against the Wilson County Sheriff.  The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the Sheriff's postcard-only policy for jail inmate mail.  This policy severely restricts the free speech and due process rights of inmates and their friends and family to communicate with each other.

The ACLU and SJLC are seeking a court order against Wilson County Sheriff Pete Figgins, in order to put an end to the unconstitutional practice of limiting jail inmates and their family and friends to correspondence using only postcards.  The vast majority of the people to whom the policy applies are awaiting trial and, therefore, are legally presumed to be innocent.

"Writing private letters is important to inmates and their friends and families because it allows them to stay connected and to express – at length and in detail – their private concerns about family relationships, health problems, and financial issues, among other things," said Doug Bonney, Legal Director of the ACLU Foundation of Kansas.  "If this policy had been in place in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. could not have sent his now famous letter from the Birmingham Jail.  This postcard-only policy punishes inmates as well as their friends and family for no good purpose." 

Communication through mail is often the only practical form of communication available to inmates and their loved ones.  Often, family members live far away and cannot visit regularly.  Moreover, telephone calls from the jail are very expensive, and in-person, non-contact visits are limited.  These barriers make it all the more essential that inmates be allowed to correspond through regular letters and not be limited to sending and receiving postcards.

"Simply because a family member is in jail doesn't mean he ceases to be part of his or her family.  Yet, this postcard-only policy forces these inmates, as well as their parents, children, spouses and friends, to either write everything in abbreviated form, which can be read by anyone, or write nothing at all.  The Sheriff's policy effectively silences these families if they are unwilling to risk airing personal or confidential information to the entire world," said Joshua Glickman, co-counsel with SJLC.

CONTACT: 
Doug Bonney, Legal Director, ACLU of Kansas, (913) 490-4102 (direct), dbonney@aclukansas.org
Joshua Glickman, Founding Member Attorney, Social Justice Law Collective, (913) 213-3064(direct), josh@sjlawcollective.com



Visit SJLC's website here »
Visit the ACLU Foundation of Kansas's website here >>

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kansas District Court Ends Wyandotte County Jail's "Postcard-Only" Mail Policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 23, 2015
               
Kansas City, MO – United States District Judge Eric F. Melgren signed an order today reversing the Wyandotte County Jail’s “postcard-only” mail policy and ordering the Jail to again allow inmates to exchange letters through the U.S. Mail – the result of a legal challenge to the policy brought by the ACLU of Kansas and the Social Justice Law Collective (SJLC).

Judge Melgren’s ruling approves an agreement between Jail inmates and the Wyandotte County Sheriff.  According to the Court’s order, inmates in the Wyandotte County Jail will now be able to send an unlimited number of regular letters to friends and family members outside the Jail.  The Sheriff, who retains the ability to restrict the length of letters in certain circumstances, must also now provide free writing materials to indigent inmates.  The Sheriff has also agreed to pay $25,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs to the ACLU and SJLC for their efforts in securing the judgment.

“Today’s reversal of the Wyandotte County Jail’s ‘postcard-only’ mail policy is a clear sign that unnecessary restrictions on the free speech rights of incarcerated individuals are illegal,” said Joshua Glickman, Founding Member Attorney of the Social Justice Law Collective, “the Wyandotte County Jail now joins the vast majority of Kansas jails which operate safe and secure facilities without the need to drastically curtail the ability of inmates to correspond with family, friends, and loved ones.”

The ACLU of Kansas and SJLC filed the federal class action lawsuit in October 2013, alleging that the Wyandotte County Jail’s “postcard-only” mail policy violated the constitutional rights of inmates and their friends and families to communicate with one another.  Given the typical distance between inmates and their families, as well as the prohibitive cost of telephone calls and in-person visits, the ACLU and SJLC argued that the Jail’s restrictive correspondence policies not only prevented inmates from privately corresponding with loved ones, but also hindered inmates’ ability to successfully re-integrate into their communities upon release.

“It’s a significant victory for the ability of incarcerated individuals to exercise their right to speak without undue government interference – a right these individuals retain even in Jail,” said Doug Bonney, Legal Director for the ACLU of Kansas, “in approving the parties’ agreement, the Court has made it clear that jail and prison rules that stifle free speech will not be permitted.”

CONTACT: 
Joshua Glickman, Founding Member Attorney, Social Justice Law Collective, (913) 213-3064 (direct), josh@sjlawcollective.com
Doug Bonney, Legal Director, ACLU of Kansas & Western Missouri, (816) 994-3311 (direct), dbonney@aclukswmo.org


Visit SJLC's website here »
Visit the ACLU Foundation of Kansas's website here >>

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

SJLC Settles Federal Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Smithsonian Institution and Pulseworks, LLC

New Comprehensive Disability Policies Adopted

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 16, 2014

Washington, D.C. - Max and Jake Gold, along with SJLC attorneys Shawn Heller and Joshua Glickman, dismissed their federal discrimination lawsuit today in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, pursuant to settlement agreements with the Smithsonian Institution and Pulseworks, LLC.  Max will return to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in August and will now be able to take advantage of the museum’s flight simulators, which Max was denied access to in 2012 as a result of his disability. 

The settlement reached by the parties represents substantial progress, helping to ensure that individuals with disabilities will not only have access to all the programs and services at the Air & Space Museum -- the most visited museum in the world – but will be treated with dignity and respect.  The Smithsonian has agreed to provide increased oversight of Pulseworks, which operates the museum’s simulators, and Pulseworks, with the assistance of Max and Jake, has developed and adopted new, comprehensive disability policies and training materials.  

Max suffers from a rare vascular anomaly birth defect that caused his right leg to be amputated as a child, and has left him dependent on a wheelchair.  Max is a self-described “aeronautical fanatic,” and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Aviation Security Systems from the State University of New York at Farmingdale.  

Max and Jake are very excited about the positive changes, and are looking forward to enjoying the simulator rides just as other visitors to the Smithsonian’s museums are able to do.  “It will be a very special experience for Max,” said Jake when discussing Max’s upcoming return trip to the Air & Space Museum. “We are very encouraged by the improvements made by the Smithsonian and Pulseworks, and are so happy that individuals with disabilities will get to enjoy the simulator rides, and will be treated with respect and dignity,” added Max, “This is why we brought this lawsuit!”  

For further information please contact SJLC attorneys Shawn Heller or Joshua Glickman at 202-709-5744 or media@sjlawcollective.com.  


Visit SJLC's website here »
See the Press Release here »

Read the Complaint here » 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

SJLC and ACLU File Class Action Lawsuit to End Unconstitutional Postcard-only Mail Policy at Wyandotte County Jail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 1, 2013
               
Kansas City, MO - The ACLU Foundation of Kansas and the Social Justice Law Collective (SJLC) today announced the filing of a federal class action lawsuit against the Wyandotte County Sheriff.  The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the Sheriff's postcard-only policy for jail inmate mail.  This policy severely restricts the free speech rights of inmates and their friends and family to communicate with each other.
                                                                         
The ACLU and SJLC are seeking a court order against Wyandotte County Sheriff Donald Ash, in order to put an end to  the unconstitutional practice of limiting jail inmates and their family and friends to correspondence using only postcards.  The vast majority of the people to whom the policy applies are awaiting trial and, therefore, are legally presumed to be innocent.

"Writing private letters is important to inmates and their friends and families because it allows them to stay connected and to express – at length and in detail – their private concerns about family relationships, health problems, and financial issues, among other things," said Doug Bonney, Legal Director of the ACLU Foundation of Kansas.  "If this policy had been in place in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. could not have sent his now famous letter from the Birmingham Jail.  This postcard-only policy punishes inmates as well as their friends and family for no good purpose." 

Communication through mail is often the only practical form of communication available to inmates.  Often, family members live far away and cannot visit regularly.  Moreover, telephone calls from the jail are very expensive – costing $7.00 for a fifteen minute call -- and in-person visits are limited to one hour per week.  These barriers make it all the more essential that inmates be allowed to correspond through regular letters and not be limited to sending and receiving postcards.


"Simply because a family member is in jail doesn't mean he ceases to be part of his or her family.  Yet, this postcard-only policy forces them to either write everything in abbreviated form, which can be read by anyone, or write nothing at all.  The Sheriff's policy effectively silences inmates if they are unwilling to risk airing personal or confidential information to the entire world," said Joshua Glickman, co-counsel with SJLC. 

CONTACT: 
Doug Bonney, Legal Director, ACLU of Kansas & Western Missouri, (816) 994-3311 (direct), dbonney@aclukswmo.org
Joshua Glickman, Founding Member Attorney, Social Justice Law Collective, (913) 213-3064 (direct), josh@sjlawcollective.com



Visit SJLC's website here »
Visit the ACLU Foundation of Kansas's website here >>
See the Press Release here »
Read the Complaint here » 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

SJLC Files Suit Against the Smithsonian Institution and Pulseworks, LLC for Disability Discrimination

For Release After Conference Call Press Conference: August 15, 2013, 10:30 a.m. EST

Max and Jake Gold, along with SJLC attorneys Shawn Heller and Joshua Glickman, filed a federal discrimination lawsuit today in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the Smithsonian Institution and Pulseworks, LLC, for denying Max access to the flight simulators at the Air & Space Museum.  Max suffers from a rare vascular anomaly birth defect that caused his right leg to be amputated as a child, and has left him dependent on a wheelchair.
 
Last summer, Max and his brother, Jake, traveled from Merrick, NY, to Washington, D.C., to visit the Smithsonian's many museums.  Their first stop was at the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum -- particularly the museum's flight simulator exhibit -- as Max is a self-described “aeronautical fanatic,” and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Aviation Security Systems from the State University of New York at Farmingdale.

That excitement soon ended, however, as Max was denied the ability to use any of the flight simulators, even after being told he could do so.  Instead of a day spent enjoying D.C., Max and his brother were instead insulted and berated by the operators of the simulator exhibit, who absurdly insisted that they see Max stand up from his wheelchair and walk up several stairs.  Completely uninterested in the nature or extent of Max's disability, the operators directed their comments and questions to Max's brother, and refused to even acknowledge Max as a crowd of patrons looked on, leaving Max and his brother angry and humiliated.

Jake has been lifting Max out of his wheelchair for almost his entire life, and by doing so, has enabled Max to enjoy equal access to activities that he would otherwise not be able to participate in.  “We were just trying to do what we normally do,” said Max when discussing what happened.  “It is shameful that such a thing could happen at the Smithsonian,” added Jake, “I couldn’t believe that the supervisor wouldn’t even give my brother the respect of directing her comments and questions to him.”  Despite his treatment, Max is determined to see this lawsuit through, and noting that he "will keep fighting to make sure others with disabilities are not discriminated against, like I was.”

Max has advanced claims for injunctive relief and damages under the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act.  These laws require that places of public accommodation, executive agencies, and recipients of federal funds make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities.  Despite these laws, the Defendants refused to accommodate Max, thereby denying him equal access and subjecting him and his brother to humiliation and ridicule.

For further information contact: Shawn Heller or Joshua Glickman at 202-709-5744 or media@sjlawcollective.com.  


Visit SJLC's website here »


See the Press Release here »

Read the Complaint here » 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Florida Department of Corrections Sued Over Violent Assault

SJLC and Peters & Scoon recently filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of an inmate who was violently assaulted by prison officials from the Florida Department of Corrections.  See the complaint here »