National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI Files Amicus Brief in Lewis Case

Chris Marshall 703-524-7600
For Immediate Release
25 Jan 99

As many of you are aware, the ruling in Lewis v. Kmart earlier this year was a landmark victory in the ongoing fight to end discrimination against people with severe mental illnesses. The first lawsuit of its kind to go to trial in the United States, the Federal District Court in Lewis held that a long-term disability policy which provides lower benefits for people with severe mental illnesses than other medical disorders is unfair and discriminatory. Kmart appealed the Federal District Court’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which has tentatively scheduled the case for oral argument during the first week in March.

NAMI, in conjunction with the Employment Law Center of San Francisco, drafted and filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief with the Court of Appeals in support of Mr. Lewis and the District Court’s ruling. Several other organizations joined NAMI and the Employment Law Center on this brief, including the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association (NDMDA), National Association for Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS), Disability Rights Advocates and the World Institute on Disability . The full text of the brief is available on the NAMI website.