The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a class action lawsuit in the Northern District of New York against Jefferson County over its discriminatory and life-endangering policy of denying treatment to people with opioid use disorder.

The lawsuit names plaintiffs M.C. and T.G., representing a class of individuals currently incarcerated at Jefferson County Jail who have already been stripped of their life-saving treatment and are in various stages of withdrawal, as well as an untold number of class members who will enter the jail in the future and be subject to the same arbitrary withholding of treatment.

For decades, the opioid epidemic has impacted communities across the country. More than half a million people have died of opioid use disorder in 20 years, worsening during the coronavirus pandemic. Opioid addiction took the lives of 2,844 New Yorkers between June 2020 and June 2021, including 759 in the Northern District alone. Today, one person in the United States dies of opioid overdose every seven minutes.

Update: The Court granted a temporary restraining order, followed by a preliminary injunction, requiring Defendants to continue Plaintiff M.C.'s treatment. The Court also granted a prelminiary injunction to the entire class, and certified the lawsuit to proceed as a class action.


Antony Gemmell, Terry Ding, Molly Biklen, Claire Molholm and Gabriella Larios

Date filed

March 1, 2022


United States District Court, Northern District of New York