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Major Developments in NCLEJ Litigation Since 2002

2009

Steuben County Agrees to Speed Up Issuance of Food Stamps, Medicaid Assistance, and Cash Public Assistance to Those Hard Hit by Recession (November 2009)

Steuben County, NY - NCLEJ, the Western New York Law Center, and the Empire Justice Center have achieved a settlement in a United States District Court for the Western District of New York in a class action case challenging Steuben County’s unlawful practice of delaying food stamp, Medicaid, and cash public assistance applications. The case was filed in federal district court in Rochester, NY. The Court certified a class of food stamp, Medicaid, and cash public assistance applicants in August 2009.

The settlement, pending approval by the court, provides relief to the hundreds of Steuben County residents who apply for food stamps, Medicaid and/or cash public assistance each month. In these times of economic downturn and lay-offs at the County’s largest employers, more and more individuals and families are requesting assistance from the County and the need for timely determinations of eligibility and provision of these much-needed benefits is essential to people’s health and well-being. This agreement will end a long standing practice by the County of processing applications often weeks and months longer than permitted by law.

For further information, please contact: Laura F. Redman (redman(at)nclej.org), Petra T. Tasheff, (tasheff (at) nclej.org) and Marc Cohan (cohan (at) nclej.org) at NCLEJ at (212) 633-6967.

Earlier developments in this case:

NCLEJ, Western New York Law Center, and Empire Justice Center file class action challenging food stamp, Medicaid, and cash public assistance application delays in Steuben County, NY (July 2009)

 

NCLEJ and Empire Justice Center Challenge Unlawful Delays in Processing Emergency Assistance Applications in Long Island, New York (September 2009)

Doe v. Blass, a class action filed in September 2009, challenges delays in providing emergency assistance for costs such as rent arrears, security deposits, broker fees, and avoiding utility shutoff. People are losing their housing as the result of such delays, and are often forced into homelessness. While the law requires that the agency provide a same-day interview and prompt and complete action to avert the emergency, benefits are being made available after one or more months, often far too late to preserve or obtain housing.

The named plaintiff was receiving unemployment benefits to support herself and her two children. Despite the fact that she had obtained an order of protection against the children’s father, the father was arrested after banging on her apartment door. After she located a safe place to live and applied for emergency assistance to make the move, the agency dragged its feet. NCLEJ and the Empire Justice Center, co-counsel in this action in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Suffolk County, allege that these delays are widespread. Discovery and a motion for class certification are pending.

For further information contact Tedde Tasheff (tasheff(at)nclej.org) or Laura Redman (redman(at)nclej.org). Co-counsel are Linda Hassberg (LHassberg(at)empirejustice.org) and Saima Akhtar (SAhtar(at)empirejustice.org) of the Empire Justice Center in Central Islip, New York, and Albany, New York respectively.


NCLEJ files a class action challenging Indiana’s failure to timely process food stamp applications (July 2009)

On April 7, 2009, NCLEJ filed /Tiffany Bell, et al. v. Anne W. Murphy, et al/., a class action challenging Indiana’s failure to timely process food stamp applications. The case was filed in federal district court in South Bend, Indiana. Co-counsel are Bryan Cave LLP (Chicago and St. Louis offices) and Friedman & Associates (La Porte, IN). The Court has certified a class of food stamp applicants and a sub-class of applicants eligible for expedited processing. For further information, please contact Tedde Tasheff (tasheff at nclej.org), Gina Mannix (mannix at nclej.org) or Marc Cohan (cohan at nclej.org) at NCLEJ, 212.633.6967.


NCLEJ and Texas Colleagues File Federal Lawsuit Challenging Texas Food Stamp Application Processing Delays (July 2009)

On July 31, 2009 the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, Texas Legal Services Center, and Lynn Sanders, Esq. filed a class action lawsuit, Howard v. Hawkins, in federal court in the Western District of Texas challenging the failure of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to process applications for food stamps within the time frames required by federal and state law. Bruce Bower is counsel for the Texas Legal Services Center.

For further information contact Gina Mannix (mannix at nclej.org), Tedde Tasheff (tasheff at nclej.org), or Marc Cohan (cohan at nclej.org).


 

NCLEJ, Western New York Law Center, and Empire Justice Center file class action challenging food stamp, Medicaid, and cash public assistance application delays in Steuben County, NY (July 2009)

A class action lawsuit, Kari C v. Muller, was filed by the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, Western New York Law Center, and the Empire Justice Center on Wednesday, July 15, 2009 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. Plaintiff seeks the Court’s order requiring Steuben County to, inter alia, (1) timely process applications for and provide food stamps to all eligible individuals; and (2) provide timely and adequate written notices of determinations of eligibility for food stamps, including notice of fair hearing rights.

Each month hundreds of Steuben County residents wait for their food stamp eligibility determination beyond the thirty day limit set by law. For example, the complaint alleges that for the months of February to April of 2009, of the applications on the register at the end of the period, an average of 22% of applications each month were pending beyond 30 days, with 36 % of the applications on the register at the end of the period delayed beyond 30 days in April 2009. While they wait, applicants go hungry and without food for their families. They often have to turn to already over burdened food pantries and forgo food necessary for their and their children’s health.

In addition to the Complaint, plaintiff filed a motion for class certification and a motion for preliminary injunctive relief.

For further information contact: Laura F. Redman, redman(at)nclej.org, Petra T. Tasheff, (tasheff(at)nclej.org) and Marc Cohan (cohan(at)nclej.org) of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice.

Subsequent developments in this case:

Steuben County Agrees to Speed Up Issuance of Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Cash Public Assistance to Those Hardest Hit by Recession (November 2009)

 


 

NCLEJ and Colleagues File Class Action Challenging Food Stamp, Medicaid, and Cash Assistance Application Delays in Maryland

A class action lawsuit, Thompson v. Donald, was filed by the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, of New York, NY, the Public Justice Center and the Homeless Persons Representation Project, both of Baltimore, Maryland on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. Plaintiff seeks to order the State of Maryland to, inter alia, (1) timely process applications for and provide Food Stamps, Medicaid, and cash assistance, including expedited processing of Food Stamp applications for those eligible; (2) make eligibility determinations for Food Stamp and Medicaid separate from eligibility determinations for cash assistance; (3) provide timely and adequate written notices of determinations of eligibility for Medicaid, including notice of fair hearing rights.

On April 29, 2009, plaintiffs filed a class action complaint, motion for class certification, and motion for preliminary injunction.

Each month thousands of Maryland residents wait for their Food Stamps, Medicaid, and cash assistance beyond the federal and state time limits set by regulation. For example, the motion for preliminary injunction alleges that, in February 2009, defendant timely processed only 84 percent of the food stamp applications, 88 percent of the cash assistance applications, and 86 percent of the Family and Children Medicaid applications. While they wait, applicants often must pay for needed food and health care out of their own pockets or forgo needed nutrition, necessities, and medical care. Many turn to already strapped food pantries, some of which cannot provide appropriate food for certain dietary and health concerns.

For further information contact: Laura F. Redman (redman(at)nclej.org) Petra T. Tasheff, (tasheff(at)nclej.org) and Marc Cohan (cohan(at)nclej.org) of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice; Carolyn Johnson (cjohnson(at)hprplaw.org) of the Homeless Persons Representation Project; and Debra Gardner (gardnerd(at)publicjustice.org) of the Public Justice Center, both of Baltimore, Maryland.


 

NCLEJ and Empire Justice Center Achieve Settlement Ending Delays in Processing of Food Stamp and Medicaid Applications in Long Island, New York (April, 2009)

NCLEJ and the Empire Justice Center have achieved a settlement in a United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York case challenging Suffolk County’s unlawful practice of delaying food stamp and Medicaid applications. Under the terms of the settlement in Maryann C. v. Demarzo, pending approval by the Court, Suffolk County must abide by federal and state deadlines for processing food stamp and Medicaid applications. Additionally, Suffolk County must provide certain information and services to individuals in immediate need. Finally, counsel for individuals experiencing food stamp and Medicaid application delays are able to use an out-of-court relief mechanism to resolve their application delays.

The Court will retain jurisdiction over the case for three years, with a process for extending jurisdiction if defendants fail to comply with the terms of the settlement. Compliance with the timeliness requirements will be monitored through regular reports to plaintiffs’ counsel and sampling of case files.

The case was brought under the Food Stamp Act and its implementing regulations and the Medicaid Act and its implementing regulations. On April 13, 2009, the Court certified the class and appointed NCLEJ and the Empire Justice Center as class counsel. A fairness hearing is scheduled for June 8, 2009 in the U.S. Courthouse for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

For further information contact Marc Cohan (cohan(at)nclej.org), Tedde Tasheff (tasheff(at)nclej.org), or Laura Redman (redman(at)nclej.org). Co-counsel are Linda Hassberg (LHassberg(at)empirejustice.org) and Bryan Hethrington (BHethrington(at)empirejustice.org) of the Empire Justice Center in Central Islip, New York, and Rochester, New York respectively.