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AIDS Legal Services Project


ALSP

The AIDS Legal Services Project (ALSP) has directed its resources to assisting low-income people living with HIV disease almost from the very beginning of the HIV epidemic. Since it was founded in 1986 by the LACBA Barristers, the Project has provided direct one-on-one pro bono legal representation to thousands of people living with HIV and AIDS who have an HIV related legal problem.

With the help of highly motivated pro bono attorneys who have been with the project since its inception, ALSP has established a reputation for handling some of the most sophisticated legal issues including asylum based on HIV status, employment discrimination, COBRA and ERISA and housing foreclosures.

The ALSP focuses on core HIV related legal services:

  1. Estate planning (wills, powers of attorney and healthcare directives);
  2. Debt relief (including creditor harassment and student loan defaults but generally NOT response to summons if the person is being sued in court);
  3. Insurance (health, life and disability terminations and overpayments)
  4. Employment (HIV discrimination, FMLA leave, ADA accommodations)
  5. HIV Discrimination in healthcare and public access; and
  6. Breaches of HIV confidentiality.

For people in need of assistance, please call LACBA's Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) at (213) 243-1525 where bilingual, trained interviewers will provide a confidential intake. Matters that are appropriate for the ALSP will be referred to the Project Director for follow up assistance.

Callers who do not meet ALSP's scope of services or who are not indigent will be screened and referred to other appropriate legal service agencies. In addition, for certain matters, the LRS can also refer callers to private attorneys who will charge a fee. These services might include personal injury (such as medical malpractice or car accidents), criminal law or family law matters.

If you have questions, please call Laurie Aronoff, ALSP Project Director at (213) 833-6776.

To volunteer, please complete this online form.

Law students please send a resume and cover letter to laronoff@lacba.org.
Or for more information, please contact Laurie Aronoff, AIDS Legal Services Project Director, at (213) 833-6776 or laronoff@lacba.org.


Benjamin Aranda III Outstanding Public Service Awards

Recipients of the Honorable Benjamin Aranda III Outstanding Public Service Awards for their contributions to LACBA's legal services projects - AIDS Legal Services, Domestic Violence, Immigration Legal Assistance and Center for Civic Mediation. From left to right: Bill Klein; Brian Condon; Rick Cohen on behalf of Buchalter Nemer; and Rebecca Weiker.

Brian K. Condon — ALSP Aranda Nomination 2012

Since Brian Condon first approached the ALSP Project Director in 2003 to volunteer, he has shown exceptional skill, compassion and tenacity on numerous complex matters filing complaints in both state and federal court, from San Francisco to Ventura, on behalf of low-income HIV+ people who had no other way to access justice.

Never shying away from what may be an unpopular issue, Brian has led teams of attorneys that together have provided a staggering 4,280 pro bono hours, on an array of complex litigation matters:

Successfully settled an ADA matter for a prisoner in San Quentin when the inmate had been denied access to a desirable work program because of his HIV+ status;

Quashed an unlawful eviction for a very ill client, and then turned around and filed a successful affirmative habitability lawsuit, personally waiting in line at the City's Housing Department to gather evidence against the landlord. When Brian found out the client had been arrested on a petty theft charge, he intervened to make sure the client received his life saving medication while in jail and volunteered to serve as a character witness when the client's matter was referred to the Mental Health court;

Litigated a complex Medi-Cal prescription coverage case over three years, against the State of California for a client diagnosed with AIDS wasting syndrome, a chronic and progressive loss of weight and muscle mass that is life-threatening if it is not treated. The client had been denied an expensive hormone treatment regardless of his doctor's prescription and the fact that it was the only effective treatment. Appealing the case to the 2nd District Court of Appeal, Brian received a favorable interpretation of the statute for Medi-Cal patients when the court held in a published opinion that the state must get input from medical providers before changing its drug criteria;

From 2010 to the present, Brian and Arnold & Porter have been litigating an HIV healthcare discrimination matter against an anesthesiologist who refused to treat an HIV+ woman, who had already been prepped for a hernia operation, when he found out she was HIV+. After 1,750 pro bono hours and an unsuccessful seven day jury trial in Ventura County, the case is now up on appeal.

Brian Condon is a litigator at Arnold & Porter with 20 years of experience in federal and state courts, private arbitration, and advocacy before local government agencies. He focuses on commercial and business litigation of all types, and has specific experience litigating arbitration issues, private equity transactions, Internet-related litigation, project development disputes, prejudgment remedies, and appeals. He is very active in community service and has served on the firm's pro bono committee for over 15 years, has held every office for the Los Angeles County Bar Association Foundation Board, has provided substantial pro bono environmental work for the Pacoima CARE Foundation and was the 2006 recipient of the California Lawyer "Angel Award" in recognition of his outstanding pro bono contributions.


Brian A. Procel
Brian A. Procel Brian A. Procel, partner at Miller Barondess, was recently recognized as one of the top 20 young attorneys in California by the Daily Journal. He has also been a "Rising Star" every year since 2008, a distinction given to less than 2.5 percent of attorneys in California.

Brian has extensive experience prosecuting and defending actions in both state and federal court. He has litigated and prevailed in cases involving a wide variety of issues, including investor and consumer fraud, intellectual property, entertainment, bankruptcy, real estate, labor and employment, government contracts, and civil rights.

ALSP truly hit the pro bono jackpot with Brian. He isn't interested in doing limited scope or brief services. He wants something big and complicated and that's exactly what he got.

Brian was sent a list of the most complicated cases, and he picked the Big Insurance Company one. This matter involved potential bad faith against not one, but two major carriers AND the federal government's Medicare program.

 

Lawsuit Needed for Woman with Too Much Health Insurance Coverage

In the midst of the ongoing national debate on Health Care Reform and how best to cover the uninsured, a client of LACBA's AIDS Legal Services Project, actually had three active insurance policies, but they were useless. None of the carriers would pay her mounting medical bills until Brian Procel, Partner at Miller Barondess stepped in.

The client, PB, aged 61, was diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s. Her condition deteriorated over the years, and she currently has AIDS, Crohn's Disease, is blind in one eye, and she has a laundry list of additional health problems. When she became too sick to work, she held onto her insurance, and for additional coverage, she was fortunate in that she could also get insurance through her husband's work as well. After a few years of disability she also became Medicare eligible.

Ironically, it seems that too much insurance coverage is what caused her legal problems. For almost three years, PB had difficulty getting her doctor's bills paid because each of the carriers took inconsistent and irrational positions regarding which entity should pay. When PB received treatment, each insurance company would simply point the finger at one of the others as the first payor. In Brian's own words "PB's situation became reminiscent of a Three Stooges episode." The result was that nobody paid even after findings by the CA State Department of Managed Care.

PB accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid claims. Collection agencies started contacting her. And PB's doctors and medical providers either made it difficult for her to receive treatment or denied her access to medical care outright. This literally became a life and death situation for her. Ironically, people have insurance in order to strengthen their health—in this case, the stress associated with PB's health insurance actually caused her health to deteriorate.

Brian accepted PB's case pro bono. He ultimately assembled a team of attorneys that constituted a fifth of the firm plus another five paralegals. Together, they spent 431 hours on the matter reviewing hundreds of pages of insurance policies and learning ERISA law. They filed appeals with the insurance companies and government agencies and they ultimately filed a federal court action against one carrier and threatened the other with a lawsuit. This was an incredibly difficult case both in terms of strategy and the applicable law. After a year, the primary carrier finally admitted that it was wrong about its position. Brian stated "It is clear to me that the insurance company's conduct was improper by design and that it would not have agreed to coverage in the absence of our lawsuit. They have now agreed to pay all of PB's outstanding bills and her bills going forward.

"This is a tremendous result. I am proud to be a part of a firm that is willing to fight for people who are unable to fight for themselves. Were it not for our efforts, PB likely would have lost her house and she would not be receiving medical care today. Both Steven Gebelin and Vinod Mapranath made substantial contributions and they deserve credit for this win. This is why I became a lawyer" stated Brian.


Brian Schield

Brian Schield was presented with the Honorable Benjamin Aranda III Outstanding Public Service Award at the LACBA Installation Dinner in June, 2011. Schield is a partner at Square Sanders, whose practice focuses on business-related immigration matters. Schield has volunteered with the AIDS Legal Services Project for 17 years, and has helped his pro bono clients obtain asylum, family petitions, and disability waivers. He has helped people from all over the world including: Iceland, Cuba, Japan, El Salvador, Italy, and Mexico.



 
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