WMH Wins Win Preliminary Injunction on Behalf of Retired Employees of the City of New York in Class Action Lawsuit Against City Government, EmblemHealth and GHI
January 12, 2023
Retired Employees of the City of New York Win Preliminary Injunction in Class Action Lawsuit Against the City Government, EmblemHealth and GHI
New York, N.Y, January 12, 2023 — Walden Macht & Haran has secured another major victory for the healthcare rights of elderly and disabled retirees. This latest win comes in a class action that Walden Macht & Haran, with assistance from Pollock Cohen LLP, recently filed in New York County Supreme Court on behalf of retired City workers. Granting the preliminary injunction motion, New York State Supreme Court Justice Lyle E. Frank ordered defendants EmblemHealth, Group Health Incorporated, and the City of New York to cease imposing co-pays on roughly 183,000 retirees who are enrolled in a Medicare supplemental health care plan known as Senior Care.
To view the Court’s decision, click here: Decision + Order On Motion
The Court held that the injunction was necessary because the retirees were “highly likely” to succeed in their lawsuit and because the co-pays were forcing senior citizens living on limited pensions to forego needed medical care and reduce spending on other necessities. The Court added, “The issue here is the financial well-being of those who are generally elderly and on fixed incomes. For them to pay money that they were not required to pay is clearly a hardship, and it outweighs the steps that the defendants would have to take to undo the apparent imposition of the co-payments.”
Jacob Gardener, Partner at Walden Macht & Haran, who argued the preliminary injunction motion, stated, “Thanks to Justice Frank’s order, countless senior citizens and disabled first responders—particularly those with serious medical conditions that require frequent medical care—will no longer be drowning in co-pays they cannot afford.”
Retiree Marianne Pizzitola, President of the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees, one of the plaintiffs, states, “We are incredibly grateful to the Court for recognizing the suffering that retired civil servants are experiencing due to these illegal co-pays, and for providing the immediate relief we are owed.”
This preliminary injunction is the latest in a string of healthcare-related victories achieved by Walden Macht & Haran in the past year. Led by Jake Gardener in each case, the firm, working with co-counsel at Pollock Cohen, has secured historic wins in multiple states at the trial and appellate levels that have allowed hundreds of thousands of Medicare-eligible retirees to keep their health insurance benefits.
For Gardener, who served as an FDNY firefighter for several years in East Harlem’s Ladder 43, these cases have special meaning. He says, “I miss being a firefighter, especially the camaraderie, excitement, and sense of purpose that comes with that job. But being able to fight for the healthcare rights of retired firefighters and other City workers is just as rewarding.”
In his decision and order on the motion, Justice Frank wrote, “The Court believes that there will be irreparable harm in this matter. This matter is distinguishable from other cases cited in this action by the Respondents, as the co-payments are being made by retirees, most of whom likely are on fixed incomes and with modest means. The irreparable harm stems from the potential impact of this fee on the retirees’ health and wellbeing, should they have to prioritize other costs over their healthcare.”
On November 29, 2022, Walden Macht & Haran and Pollock Cohen filed a class action on behalf of 183,000 retired municipal workers against the City of New York and insurance company EmblemHealth-GHI. The suit alleges that the defendants are illegally charging co-pays to elderly and disabled retirees enrolled in EmblemHealth-GHI’s “Senior Care” plan. These senior citizens and disabled first responders have already collectively incurred more than $60 million in co-pays, and many have also suffered non-monetary harm. Affidavits filed with the lawsuit reveal that the co-pays are preventing many retirees from obtaining important medical care and forcing others to reduce spending on necessities such as medicine, food, housing, heat, transportation, and, in at least one case, home health aides required to help a Parkinson’s patient walk.
The lawsuit alleges that the Senior Care co-pays, which had never been imposed prior to 2022, are unlawful for the following three reasons: they are being forced on retirees without their prior consent; they violate a March 2022 court order issued in a previous case brought by the retirees; and they are not allowed under the contract governing Senior Care.
This is the third healthcare-related lawsuit filed jointly by Walden Macht & Haran and Pollock Cohen on behalf of retired public servants. The previous two—one in New York City and the other in Delaware—both resulted in landmark victories for retirees.