State ordered to submit plan for mental health services

Legal Business 2021/03/04 11:37   Bookmark and Share
A federal judge has ordered Mississippi to file a plan to upgrade its mental health services as part of resolving litigation that’s been ongoing for at least half a decade.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves last month ordered attorneys representing the state to file a systematic plan by April 30 to improve the state’s mental health services.

The state can either file an agreed-upon plan with the federal government or file a separate one if the state and federal government disagree on a remedial plan.

If Mississippi submits a jointly agreed plan with the federal government, that plan would mostly likely be the order the court agrees to, The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.

The state was forced to enter into a remedial process after Judge Reeves ruled in September 2019 that Mississippi was in violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act because there were inadequate resources in Mississippi communities to treat people with mental illnesses effectively.

“Despite the state’s episodic improvement, it operates a system that unlawfully discriminates against persons with serious mental illness,” Reeves said in the opinion.

The opinion concluded that Mississippians with mental illness were essentially being segregated to state-run hospitals instead of being treated within community centers.

The federal government first filed suit against the state over the services in 2016.

If the state’s attorneys cannot reach common ground, the Justice Department will file a separate proposed solution no later than 21 days after the state submits its own proposal.

Michael Hogan, the appointed special master who is ensuring the court’s wishes are carried out during the litigation, will have a chance to weigh in on any potential disagreements by June 4.

If the parties disagree on a plan to improve the state’s mental health services, Reeves will then issue a new order on which party’s plan he agrees with more.

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Anchorage companies, man fined for clean air violations

Court News 2021/03/01 11:23   Bookmark and Share
A man and two companies in Alaska have been sentenced to three years probation and a $35,000 fine for violating the Clean Air Act involving asbestos work at a shopping center more than five years ago, a judge said.

The work was performed at the Northern Lights Center in Anchorage, the former location of an REI store. Reports of potential asbestos exposure at the time closed the store for a day back in 2015, authorities said.

U.S. District Court Judge Joshua Kindred sentenced Tae Ryung Yoon, 64, on Friday to probation, fined him $35,000 and said he owes $30,000 in restitution for medical monitoring of the four workers who claimed they were exposed to asbestos, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The owners of Yoo Jin Management Company Ltd. and Mush Inn Corp. were also sentenced after agreeing to plead guilty to a charge of violating the Clean Air Act’s Asbestos Work Practice Standards. Both companies are owned by Chun Yoo, who is in his 80s and has “serious medical conditions,” and his wife, attorney Kevin Fitzgerald said. The couple still owns the center.

The case centers on workers who said they were exposed to asbestos during improperly conducted renovations involving an old boiler room. The work was stopped when two of the workers raised concerns.

High levels of asbestos exposure can cause lung disease or cancer.

Prosecutors said in a statement that the building owners and manager relied on a contractor who was not a certified asbestos abatement contractor and “failed to inform the contractor of the possibility of asbestos in the old boiler room.”

Fitzgerald argued that an assessment indicated no evidence of asbestos when his clients bought the center in 2006. Yoon was the building’s property manager at the time.

Documents show the boilers were replaced by another company in 2012 and the old ones were removed in 2014 to make more room. Some of the workers took photos of what they thought was asbestos and emailed them to the property management company that employed Yoon.
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