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Federal judge hints West Chester could lose rehab center lawsuit

The federal judge in the lawsuit against West Chester Twp. about the drug rehab center moratorium essentially told the township it likely won’t win if it continues to fight the case.

In an unusual move, Judge Timothy S. Black of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, placed a notation on the docket that basically tells the township it needs to work out a resolution with Dr. Mohamed Aziz.

Aziz filed sued the township on Sept. 23, alleging that a temporary ban trustees placed on facilities like his Professional Psychiatric Services violates the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Black wrote: “The court has held two initial telephone conferences involving counsel for plaintiffs and for defendant. During these conferences, the court reminded both parties of the consequences that could result if the court finds that the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or the Rehabilitation Act have been violated by defendant, or not.”

“After reviewing the complaint and the motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, and while acknowledging that these documents reflect only the position of plaintiffs and not the defenses that could be raised by defendant, the court has advised defendant that it would be wise to work with plaintiffs to find a potential resolution to this matter outside of the litigation process,” the judge wrote.

The lawsuit indicates PPS paid $650,000 for the old nursing home and an additional $200,000 for an adjacent property so they can properly address a “storm water retaining bowl” issue.

Residents have been at every meeting since April 12 protesting the controversial center because it sits across the street from the Pisgah Youth Organization ballfields, next to a daycare center and in front of a residential neighborhood.

“PPS’s future patients are considered people with disabilities under the ADA and the Rehab Act and are therefore a protected class,” the lawsuit reads. “Under the ADA and the Act, laws that apply only to individuals with disabilities are facially discriminatory.”

Aziz’s attorney Chris Finney said while it is not unheard of for judges take this preemptive action, it is unusual and was a very “deliberate” thing for Black to do.

“In some ways it’s a kindness to the defendant to be clear how you feel about something rather than blindside them later on,” Finney said.

The township’s law director Scott Phillips said he cannot discuss pending litigation.

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