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Lawsuit over Somerset methadone clinic dismissed by U.S. District Court

LONDON – A federal lawsuit claiming a proposed methadone clinic operator received financial damages from actions taken by two government agencies and Operation UNITE was dismissed in U.S. District Court September 30.

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove stated that Somerset Addiction Solutions, LLC, had ended its efforts to locate a clinic in Somerset before state officials had issued a final decision on their permit application, and therefore had not received “an actual, concrete injury” upon which to seek relief.

“[B]ecause Somerset Addiction abandoned the licensing process, there is no longer a live case or controversy for the Court to decide, rendering the lawsuit moot,” Van Tatenhove wrote in his eight-page ruling, noting the operators admit that the withdrawal was a “business decision” rather than a result of being administratively denied a license.

In addition, Van Tatenhove stated that resolutions passed by the City of Somerset and Pulaski County Fiscal Court opposing the clinic neither imposed additional requirements upon the operator nor imposed requirements that conflicted with federal regulatory statutes regarding distribution of methadone.

“[T]he claims asserted by Somerset Addiction lack finality or are otherwise legally incognizable…” Van Tatenhove ruled.

Somerset Addiction Solutions began making plans to open an outpatient substance abuse treatment facility in Somerset that would include methadone treatment in June 2009.

On Aug. 12, 2009, clinic owners Terry Scott and Dr. Lori A. Nation were issued a permit by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services – the first step toward obtaining an opiate addiction treatment license. The facility had also been issued a business license from the City of Somerset.

It wasn’t until October 2009 that plans for the clinic became known, resulting in negative reactions from the public and government officials.

County officials passed a resolution opposing the clinic “until such a time as proper information is provided” by the clinic’s owners while the city stated that sufficient information about the facility had not been provided.

Following a public informational forum conducted by the Pulaski County UNITE Coalition, plans for the clinic were dropped.

Scott’s lawsuit claimed “discriminatory reaction and behavior” by the city and county governments and demanded at least $15 million in compensation for loss of future revenue asserting claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Supremacy Clause, and the Due Process an Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

The lawsuit also claimed UNITE’s opposition to the methadone clinic violated both the constitutional and civil rights of the owners.

“We are very pleased with the judge’s ruling,” said Karen Kelly, director of UNITE. “At no time did we violate anyone’s rights. We merely pointed out there are risks posed by a methadone clinic and that our detectives see the drug being diverted to illegal use on a daily basis.”

For more information about Operation UNITE visit their website at www.operationunite.org.

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