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Civil and Human Rights

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For years, the firm has represented national nonprofits that advocate for immigrants, foster children, people with disabilities, juvenile offenders, and other populations who often end up in government custody. These organizations rely on class actions to stop government policies that harm the populations they serve, and we have fought alongside them to ensure that the class action device remains a vehicle to do so.

In December 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued an important decision in Postawko v. Missouri Department of Corrections, upholding the certification of a class of inmates who were being denied access to the most effective drug for treating their chronic hepatitis C. On behalf of the Arc of the United States, Center for Children’s Law and Policy, Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Disability Rights Arkansas Inc., Human Rights First, Impact Fund, National Disability Rights Network, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Juvenile Defender Center, and Missouri Protection & Advocacy Services, the firm filed an amicus brief arguing that the class was correctly certified. Our brief focused on the historic significance of the class action rule in helping vulnerable people effect change, and argued that a prison wide treatment policy imposes a common injury on inmates sufficient to certify a class.

In 2014, we had filed a similar amicus brief in a Ninth Circuit case, Parsons v. Ryan, arguing that class certification is appropriate when inmates are exposed to a common, unreasonable risk of harm because of government action or inaction. The Parsons court upheld the certification of a class of inmates who challenged the systematic denial of basic health care in the Arizona prisons and paved the way for a similar decision in the Postawko case.