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West Chester drug rehab suit continues despite judge’s settlement note


Motions continue to be filed and hearings set in federal court despite the judge’s notation that states West Chester Twp. and a Mason drug rehab specialist must settle a lawsuit. Here’s why:

After months of wrangling at trustee meetings over a proposed drug rehab facility that would go into the old nursing home across from the Pisgah Youth Organization ball fields, Dr. Mohamed Aziz filed suit in federal court on Sept. 23. He alleged that a temporary ban trustees placed on facilities like his Professional Psychiatric Services (PPS) violates the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Last month, 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 Aziz.

Black wrote in part: “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.

So one might ask why the township had until today to file a response in the case and a hearing has been scheduled for mid-December. Legal experts and plaintiff’s attorney Jennifer Branch — who successfully got a preliminary injunction against the state for Planned Parenthood — said the judge is keeping the case schedule in tact as the parties work on a settlement, so the talks don’t dismantle.

“The judge is most likely continuing to hold the parties to a scheduling order because that’s what puts the pressure on the parties to settle,” she said. “Because if there is no scheduling order and they don’t have to file anything, people aren’t going to talk to each other and try to settle the case. The goal would be defense attorneys, instead of spending 100 hours drafting and putting on witnesses at the hearing in defending the litigation, spend your time trying to settle it.”


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