SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A judge recently ruled the St. Clare’s pensioner lawsuit against the Albany Diocese should merge with the Attorney General’s lawsuit filed in May.
In 2019, AARP Foundation attorneys took on a case against the Diocese on behalf of the former St. Clare’s hospital employees who were notified in 2018 that their benefits would be terminated.
The Attorney General’s May lawsuit alleges the Albany Diocese failed to contribute to the pension plans.
The state submitted a motion to consolidate the two cases, and while lawyers for the Diocese argued the cases should stay separate, the judge ultimately decided consolidating the two cases will “promote the interests of justice and judicial economy.”
Senior Attorney at AARP Foundation, Meryl Grenadier, said the Attorney General’s office has been working alongside her team this whole time, gathering evidence and putting together a case.
“We are both seeking the same thing, and that’s justice for the pensioners,” Grenadier said, “getting back the pensions that these hard-working people earned.“
The Diocese has previously said it disagrees with the AG’s lawsuit and said more litigation will further delay resolution of the case. They’ve also pointed to the St. Clare’s Corporation as being responsible for the pension fund and asserted that they never owned or managed it.
Mary Hartshorne has been the face and voice of more than a thousand former St. Clare’s hospital employees in their fight to get their pensions back. Pensioners are entering their fourth holiday season without their retirement money.
“I was listening to a talk show on the radio the other day and a man called in and said, ‘I don’t know who that woman is from St. Clare’s, but she must be crazy. They are not going to get anything. I can’t believe she keeps saying they’re going to get it. She must have a lot of faith,'” Hartshorne recalled. “And I thought, ‘well you’re right.’”
Hartshorne said faith, along with the work of her attorneys and advocated like Senator Jim Tedisco is what keeps her motivated in the fight for her fellow former hospital workers.
“This was the hospital of last resort for people couldn’t afford to pay for their healthcare. They did a tremendous job. Nobody told them they were going to lose their pension,” Tedisco said. “They could’ve planned in other ways, but they didn’t. It not only affects them, but it affects their family members.”
Tedisco has frequently called on fellow state lawmakers and the federal government to find funds for the pensioners.
Hartshorne is hopeful with the progress and number of active filings in the case.
“We will get through this. I tell you that every year, and I mean it,” Hartshorne told NEWS10. “And we will win.“