John Rue, the Principal Attorney of John Rue & Associates, is a recovering alcoholic who has been clean and sober for over three decades. Other attorneys at the firm are in 12-step recovery as well. We understand the difficult process of remaining sober.
With that focus and perspective, we concentrate our practice on representing both the individuals in recovery and the clinicians and organizations that provide clinical services to those individuals, including legal services related to coordinating licensing and related issues, approval for sober houses by the Department of Community Affairs, and defending so-called “Not in My Backyard” (NIMBY) litigation brought against such facilities. Our firm is general counsel to Absolute Awakenings Treatment Center, and our attorneys have represented numerous individuals in recovery who have had various legal troubles, routinely obtaining satisfactory results for them.
We do not represent insurance carriers, ever. We do not represent landlords in actions against their tenants, ever. We do not represent employers in disputes with people in recovery, ever. We are on your side, always.
Individuals in early recovery face a wide variety of challenges, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Many are also overwhelmed with legal problems. DUI/DWI charges, minor drug offenses, disorderly persons offenses, landlord-tenant disputes, employment disputes, and disciplinary charges brought by a college or university are a few examples. Our attorneys understand, and we can help.
DUI/DWI, other motor vehicle offenses, and disorderly persons offenses, while often addressed in the local municipal courts in New Jersey, can still be high stakes. Repeated DWIs, which is common for those struggling with addiction, can even result in mandatory jail sentences. Even a large number of parking tickets can put a defendant in serious legal jeopardy. Our attorneys have experience representing defendants in such matters. We understand recovery from the inside, and we can explain extenuating circumstances to the court to argue for the best outcome, even in tough situations.
After one of our clients was convicted of a third and fourth DWI offense, she was sentenced to six months in jail for the first and was likely to be sentenced to the same in the fourth. We represented her in municipal court and successfully argued that the two infractions should be treated as a single offense for purposes of sentencing, and she was permitted to serve both six-month sentences concurrently.
Her license suspensions for the two charges, 10 years each, were also imposed concurrently, and she will be able to apply for reinstated driving privileges after 10 years rather than having to wait 20 years. We are currently litigating a challenge for her against the DMV in which we argue that the automatic mandatory nature of the suspensions, including the fact that New Jersey does not grant limited licenses to people on suspension, comprise a violation of her constitutional right to due process of law. As of now, that appeal is ongoing in the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Addiction, including alcoholism, is a disability, and recognized as one by law. An addict or alcoholic seeking recovery has the right to reasonable accommodations that are necessary to their recovery. This may include a leave of absence to go to rehab, the right to a flexible work schedule to accommodate outpatient therapy, and other issues. Our attorneys will talk to you about your employment situation, and we will help you determine whether you have rights that we can help you assert.
Of course, the right to “reasonable accommodations” does not encompass the right to engage in addictive behavior without any attempt to recover from the disease. So the use of illegal substances and the display of illegal behavior sometimes puts people outside the bounds of being entitled to reasonable accommodations. For example, an alcoholic or addict who wants to recover may have the right to time off or flexible work times; but if that same person shows up to work under the influence, no “accommodation” of the disease is required by law. The question can sometimes be nuanced, and an attorney familiar with this area of the law is essential.
One client sought treatment in a residential setting and was promptly fired upon the expiration of vacation and sick time. After a full review of the file and taking the first steps toward obtaining binding arbitration, we were able to secure a financial recovery for the individual based on the employer’s violation of state and federal discrimination laws.
Like employers, colleges and graduate schools are required to provide reasonable accommodations to those with recognized disabilities. Even students in public schools may be entitled to accommodations if reasonably necessary and if granting them would not impose an undue burden on the school. Our attorneys will help you figure out the best next steps.
One of our clients, while under the influence, engaged in illegal and improper conduct involving private photographs of his ex-girlfriend. Civil and criminal charges followed. We represented him in the disciplinary proceedings and also in the criminal proceedings, and we were able to obtain a positive outcome for the client.
Since addiction is protected as a disability, the rights afforded under the Fair Housing Act, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, and other non-discrimination statutes may apply to a housing dispute where the housing rights of an individual with an alcohol or substance abuse disorder. We can help you figure out whether your legal rights have been violated and what recourse you may have.
One institutional client, which owns and operates a sober house, found itself in a dispute with the town over alleged zoning violations. We are helping that client fight the town’s discriminatory conduct in hopes of paving the way for other sober houses in this and other towns. Individuals who reside at a house that is subject to such illegal discrimination may also have their own separate cause of action against the town if the town’s conduct interferes with their exercise of statutory and constitutional rights.
Newly recovering alcoholics and addicts often need intensive clinical services, like in-patient treatment or a long-term residential placement. Even outpatient services can be extremely expensive. Insurance carriers often do not want to pay what their policy requires. We can represent you in these appeals and press the insurance carriers to cover your health care needs, so you can concentrate on recovery.
Providing clinical services to people in recovery may expose your organization to significant liability. During the course of your business, you will likely have legal questions that require immediate attention. Access to counsel that focuses on organizations like yours is important. At our firm, you will find aggressive and diligent legal advocates who understand both your clients’ and your legal needs. Our current corporate, clinical clients include Absolute Awakenings Treatment Center and Tranquility Estates, which runs cooperative sober living residences (CSLRs). We are aggressively expanding our practice in this industry space.
Substance abuse treatment centers are highly regulated. Since your facility cannot commence operations until you are licensed, you should rely on attorneys who have knowledge of and experience with New Jersey’s regulations governing these treatment facilities as soon as possible. Even simple corporate structure questions can sometimes leave new clinical practitioners concerned about the legal choices they must make as they start out. For example, should your practice be comprised of an LLC or an S corporation, what steps should you take to separate your personal from professional assets, and so on? We can help you navigate the regulatory maze.
In order to expand the physical plant of your treatment center, you must obtain approval from the state. Although it is possible to expedite the process, obtaining approval can be confusing, especially if you plan to provide new services. Our attorneys can guide you with your expansion or relocation project.
In New Jersey, CSLRs are facilities where individuals in recovery can live in communal support with other people in early recovery. Inherent zoning concerns, specific regulations that must be satisfied, and an unfortunate tendency in communities, such as (NIMBY) obstacles, require sophisticated legal counsel.
Whether you are an individual in recovery with legal issues or a provider of substance-abuse related clinical service, you likely have questions. Our New Jersey addiction and recovery lawyers at John Rue & Associates provide a free 30-minute consultation to individuals in recovery. Clinical service providers, both individual and institutional, should contact us directly to schedule a formal consultation for a modest fee. Call us at 862-283-3155 or contact us online for more information. We have offices located in Montclair, Ridgewood, Haddonfield, and Princeton, New Jersey, and we serve clients throughout the state.
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