St. Clare’s pension case moves forward after pandemic delay

Local

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The St. Clare’s pension case is moving forward. It’s been three years since 1,100 former St. Clare’s health care workers were told they were no longer going to the get the pension money they were promised. The pensioners are suing St. Clare’s Corporation and the Albany Catholic Diocese for the pensions totaling nearly $54 million.

Friday, the appellate division heard oral arguments in the case that the Catholic Church is trying to get it thrown out. This appeal happening after the pandemic caused a delay.

“All this time we have been without our money,” said Mary Hartshorne, who has been fighting for her pension. “It only gets worse, and people’s problems get larger.”

Mary Hartshorne said, without their pensions, it’s been hard for the former St. Clare’s health care workers to pay their bills. For years, lawyers have been donating their time to help get the 1,100 pensioners the money they were promised.

“Many of them lost their entire pension and others lost 30% of it, which is a huge deal, especially when you’re on a fixed income,” explained Dara Smith, Senior Attorney at AARP Foundation. “These are folks who worked for modest wages for many years for a non-profit hospital because of the promise of the pension. And they didn’t get it or oft much less of what they are expected, so this impacted peoples lives a lot, So the sooner we can make them whole, the better.”

Despite the delay caused by the pandemic, the pensioners are hoping the process will start moving faster.

“The case before the trial court has continued this whole time,” said Smith. “We have been engaged in discovery and this hasn’t really put it on pause. So we are really hoping that soon we can close this chapter of the case, but it hasn’t slowed us down at all, fortunately.”. In the past, Hartshorne didn’t hear from former Governor Andrew Cuomo, but she’s still trying to speak with Governor Kathy Hochul.

“I was sure that she would find five minutes for us,” said Hartshorne. “Five minutes! I keep saying, don’t we count?

The Diocese of Albany, released a statement to News10 that said, “The Diocese of Albany was never involved in the ownership, governance, control, and operation of St. Clare’s Hospital or St. Clare’s Corporation, including its assets, investments, liabilities and pension plan That fact was presented once again by diocesan counsel during oral arguments last week. Bishop Scharfenberger, as a board member, continues to work with pensioners, legislators, and other interested parties in seeking a solution to this very difficult situation. Many of them have called for the State to join this effort because of its role in the hospital closing and its pension woes.”

Overall, Hartshorne said she feels positive about Friday’s hearing. The judge is likely to rule in six to eight weeks.

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