Current Issues & Lawsuits

Issues: 

Flint looks for racial bias, water crisis link

By Jacob Carah, The Detroit News, April 28, 2016 regarding the Michigan Civil Rights Commission's first public hearing on Flint's Water Crisis. CCJ Executive Director, Ed Hoort, testified.

Residents raise race as factor in Flint water crisis

By Matthew Dolan, Detroit Free Press, April 28, 2016 regarding the Michigan Civil Rights Commission's first public hearing on Flint's Water Crisis. CCJ Executive Director, Ed Hoort, testified.

Flint Water Crisis: Policy Measures to Address the Health Consequences of Lead Poisoning 

By Marie DeFer, CCJ Staff Attorney, Network for Public Health Law Blog Post, May 4, 2016.

 

Lawsuits:

Bratcher et al. v. Clark: Utility allowances from the Flint Housing Commission 

  • Background: Through the Flint Housing Commission (FHC), the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides low-income families in Flint, MI with housing assistance, including help in paying for vital household utilities like electricity and water. CCJ believes the FHC has been miscalculating those allowances for several years, forcing impoverished families to absorb the costs. In March 2017, CCJ filed a Complaint with two goals: 1) to obtain retroactive relief for every Public Housing tenant and Section 8 Voucher recipient in Flint; and 2) to ensure the FHC's future calculations are performed in compliance with federal law.
  • Current status: This case is in the initial stages of litigation. 

     

  • If you think you may be affected by this lawsuit:  If the FHC provided you with Public Housing or Section 8 housing assistance at anytime since 2014, your rights will automatically be addressed by this case. If you paid your own water bills directly, you are of special interest. Please call CCJ at (800) 724-7441, ext. 303.

 

Dozier et al. v. Lyon: Medicaid Coverage for Women in Plan First! Program

  • Background: CCJ filed a complaint against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in June 2014 regarding its plan to phase out the Plan First! program, which provides family planning Medicaid services to low income women. DHHS intended to end the program without conducting ex parte reviews, meaning that it would terminate a woman’s Plan First! coverage without first determining if she was eligible for any other Medicaid categories, in violation of federal law.

  • Current status: As a result of CCJ's lawsuit, the District Court ordered DHHS to immediately renew Plan First! benefits to every woman in the class. In January 2016, the District Court ordered DHHS to complete ex parte reviews of all 32,000 plaintiffs within 60 days, with an exception for disability-based cases. So far, as a result of this lawsuit, over 20,700 women have been found eligible for comprehensive health care coverage through Medicaid and several thousand more are still awaiting a final determination from DHHS.

  • If you think you may be affected by this lawsuit: If you participate in the Plan First! Program, you may be eligible for full Medicaid coverage. Make sure DHHS has your most updated contact information. If you have questions, call CCJ at (800) 724-7441.

 

Unan et al. v. Lyon: Medicaid Coverage for Qualifying Immigrants

  • Background: CCJ and their co-counsel, the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC), filed a complaint against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in September 2014 because DHHS erroneously denied certain legal immigrants full Medicaid and informed those people of the denial in a manner that was unconstitutional and failed to qualify as notice of the termination.

  • Current status: In January 2016, the District Court denied CCJ and MIRC’s Motion for Summary Judgment and granted DHHS’s Motion for Summary Judgment. CCJ and MIRC appealed the District Court’s Opinion and Order to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in February 2016. That appeal is pending.


  • If you think you may be affected by this lawsuit: If you think DHHS has incorrectly granted you with Emergency Services Only (ESO) Medicaid when it should have granted you with full Medicaid coverage, contact CCJ at (800) 724-7441 or MIRC at (734) 239-6863.

 

Barry et al. v. Lyon: Public Assistance for Felony Suspects and Their Families

 

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    Background: CCJ and their co-counsel, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU), filed a complaint against against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in July 2013. The complaint challenged the state’s practice of automatically terminating food assistance, cash assistance, or child care benefits to anyone with an outstanding felony warrant. CCJ and the ACLU also alleged that DHHS informed benefit recipients of the terminations in a manner that was unconstitutional and failed to qualify as notice of the termination.


  •  

    Current status: The District Court held that the criminal justice disqualification notices DHHS sent to some people beginning in December 2012 violate a federal law and the U.S. Constitution. The Court also held that DHHS cannot deny or cut off Food Assistance Program (FAP) benefits solely because a person has an outstanding felony warrant. DHHS must also determine that: (a) the person is intentionally fleeing to avoid prosecution, custody, or jail/prison; and (b) law enforcement officials are actively seeking the person.

     

    The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that: 1) The mootness exception applied in this case, so FAP recipients had standing to pursue their claims even after their individual situations had been administratively resolved; 2) A private right of action existed to enforce the FAP benefits and a right to a fair hearing; 3) FAP benefits could not be denied without reaching the determinations set forth by the District Court; and 4) The disqualification notices violated the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause by failing to sufficiently state the reasons for the disqualifications.

     

  • If you think you may be affected by this lawsuit: visit the ACLU’s website or call the ACLU at (313) 578-6826.

Last updated March 2017

 

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