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Greenberg Traurig LLP Files Amicus Brief in Case Addressing Soaring Opioid Deaths in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA – July 11, 2019 – Global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP. announced that it filed a pro bono amicus brief in federal court on behalf of nine community-based organizations supporting a proposed medically-supervised consumption and observation facility in the city’s Kensington section.

Addressing United States v. Safehouse, the brief advocates for the implementation of harm-reduction measures as part of a comprehensive program to combat the opioid crisis and save lives in Philadelphia. The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania filed a civil lawsuit in February asking the court to declare supervised consumption sites illegal.

While the suit is a first-of-its-kind action nationally, the remedy proposed is tailored for this community’s needs, said White Collar Defense & Special Investigations Shareholder Jessica Natali.

“Ours is an argument for an effective means to save the lives of Philadelphians and to help achieve the goal for which we all strive – reversing the opioid crisis’s most tragic effects and fostering a healthier environment for everyone who lives and works in this city and region,” said Natali, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Kensington has been cited as the city’s opioid epicenter, and Philadelphia County’s overdose death rate has outpaced all Pennsylvania counties, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The design of Safehouse follows models that have existed internationally for years and have earned distinction for success rates in reversing crumbling quality of life among communities and individuals.

“This amicus brief addresses the concerns of a community seeking to combat the immediate and ongoing crisis of opioid use disorder. The brief is specific to the issues facing this particular community and focused on elevating local harm reduction through impactful holistic, evidence-based treatment, all of which is desperately needed and which Safehouse would do,” Natali added.

She, along with Litigation Shareholders Brian T. Feeney and Kevin Rethore, and Associate Bradly A. Nankerville, authored the firm’s brief.

The brief is one of nearly a dozen filed by some 132 individuals and organizations from eight states and six cities advocating for proposed site operator, Safehouse, a privately-funded faith-based nonprofit. Its focused mission is a public health approach to overdose prevention in Philadelphia.

The firm’s brief was drafted on behalf of Action Wellness, ACT UP Philadelphia, LGBT Elder Initiative, Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition, Philadelphia FIGHT, Prevention Point Philadelphia, Sero Project, SOL Collective, and the William Way LGBT Community Center. Oral arguments in the matter are scheduled for Sept. 5.

About Greenberg Traurig Philadelphia: Founded in 1997, Greenberg Traurig’s Philadelphia office is home to some 50 attorneys whose practices include Real Estate, Public Finance, Litigation, Labor & Employment, Environmental, Government Law & Policy, Restructuring & Bankruptcy, White Collar Defense & Special Investigations, Corporate & Securities, Intellectual Property, Immigration & Compliance, Investment Regulation, and Tax. The Philadelphia office represents clients in the manufacturing, health care, real estate, energy, financial, and insurance industries, state and local governments, professional service, and energy firms and individuals.

About Greenberg Traurig’s Pro Bono Program: Greenberg Traurig lawyers across the firm provide pro bono legal services to the indigent and working poor, as well as to numerous civic and charitable organizations dedicated to assisting them. The firm focuses its resources on specialized and interrelated issues including civil rights and affirmative action, anti-human trafficking, family law matters, criminal appeals, immigration and political asylum, housing, and homelessness.

About Greenberg Traurig, LLP: Greenberg Traurig, LLP (GT) has approximately 2,100 attorneys in 41 locations in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. GT has been recognized for its philanthropic giving, diversity, and innovation, and is consistently among the largest firms in the U.S. on the Law360 400 and among the Top 20 on the Am Law Global 100. Web: Twitter: @GT_Law.