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Total Victory Won in Maryland Benefits Delay Case

On December 10, 2009, after a four-day trial, Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams granted plaintiffs’ motion for a permanent injunction requiring the State of Maryland to come into full compliance with timely processing requirements in the food stamp, Medicaid, and cash public assistance programs in one year. The State must submit a corrective action plan in 45 days from the order, and plaintiffs have 15 days to respond. By January 1, 2010, the State must begin providing monthly data to plaintiffs concerning processing times and the extent of delays.

When the suit was filed, plaintiffs claimed that each month thousands of Maryland residents had to wait for their food stamps, Medicaid, and cash assistance well beyond the federal and state time limits set by statute and regulation. At the December 2009 trial we submitted data that showed that almost one out of every five applications was delayed, with some applications backlogged from before April 2009. For many needy families, delays in receiving assistance mean going hungry, foregoing medical care, or being rendered homelessness. Many turn to already strapped food pantries, some of which cannot provide appropriate food for certain dietary and health concerns.

The lawsuit, Thompson v. Donald, was filed in April 2009. Plaintiffs were represented by NCLEJ, the Public Justice Center and the Homeless Persons Representation Project, both of Baltimore, and Kirkland & Ellis. 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.

Press coverage of the December 10, 2009, permanent injunction may be found at:

The Washington Post

The Baltimore Sun