Methadone Treatment & Employment


Parties file cross-motions for summary judgment

On November 20, 2012, the administratrix of Ms. Reynolds’ estate, now the named Plaintiff, filed a motion for partial summary judgment. The motion asserted that the Board of Nursing’s policy excluded individuals like Ms. Reynolds who were recovering from chronic addiction to opioid drugs and receiving methadone maintenance treatment from participating and receiving the benefits of various programs and services relating to the licensing of nurses in Pennsylvania.  Defendants initially denied that the policy existed, however, through pre-trial discovery, evidence showed the policy was in fact in writing and uniformly excluded individuals receiving methadone maintenance treatment.  Specifically, the policy was applied to Ms. Reynolds and excluded her from participating in and receiving the benefits of the licensing programs.  Individuals recovering from drug addiction are persons with a disability under the ADA and RA.  Therefore, such exclusion on the basis of their disability is a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 12132 of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Defendants simultaneously filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Ms. Reynolds was not suspended because of her methadone maintenance treatment, but because of other reasons, and that she was not otherwise qualified.  Defendants failed to address the policy, and instead, relied on the opinion of one expert witness who did not even examine Ms. Reynolds.

In Plaintiff’s Opposition Brief, Plaintiff argued that the evidence shows the “but for” cause of Ms. Reynolds suspension was her methadone maintenance treatment and that she was otherwise qualified to practice nursing.  At a bare minimum, there are triable issues of fact regarding Ms. Reynolds’s fitness to practice.  Therefore, Defendants’ motion should be denied.

Both parties also filed reply briefs.  Because Defendants raised two new issues in their reply brief, Plaintiff filed an additional surreply brief.  Oral argument on the motions has been scheduled for April 4, 2013.