Suit Against New York City for Arrest of Registered Needle-Exchange Participant Gains Class-Action Status
Thousands of intravenous drug users could join a lawsuit against New York City alleging that the city "regularly and improperly" arrests people who legally use needle-exchange programs, the New York Post reports. Attorney Corrine Carey filed the suit on behalf of a 21-year-old heroin user who was arrested in 1999 for carrying a needle obtained through a Manhattan needle exchange and charged with criminal possession of drug paraphernalia. Although the district attorney's office dismissed the charges several days later because the law bears an exemption for needle-exchange registered members, Carey's lawsuit argues that police often "ignore the law" and continue to arrest drug users who legally have obtained needles. Judge Robert Sweet, who has argued for the legalization of drugs in the past, granted the suit class-action status, allowing "at least 100, and no more than 5,000 people" to sue over past arrests. Carey said, "We're trying to cover all of the people who are members of the program." Up to 30,000 people use the needle exchange, which supplies more than three million needles in New York City per year in an effort to prevent the spread of diseases such as HIV (Barrett, New York Post, 8/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.