NCLEJ and WNYLC Achieve Revised Settlement Imposing New Requirements on Erie County

NCLEJ and the Western New York Law Center have achieved a revised settlement of Martin v. Weiner, a class action lawsuit filed in 2006 in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York challenging Erie County Department of Social Services’ failure to process food stamp, Medicaid, and cash assistance applications in a timely manner. The original settlement was achieved in 2008 and required the County to abide by federal and state deadlines for processing, including those applicable to the most needy food stamp applicants who qualify for expedited processing. New York State was also a party to the original settlement and was required to fulfill its obligations to supervise the County’s compliance. The original settlement included provisions for extensive monitoring reports, a mechanism by which individual cases of delay could be brought to the County for investigation and resolution, and the right of plaintiffs to seek further relief and extensions of the Court’s jurisdiction, originally set to expire in three years.

Over the last six years NCLEJ and WNYLC have closely monitored the County’s performance. In 2011, NCLEJ and WNYLC returned to Court and obtained an extension of the Court’s jurisdiction over the County.

After extensive court-supervised negotiations, in March 2014, the court approved the revised settlement. The settlement recognizes that the County’s timely processing performance has significantly improved since the filing of the lawsuit with respect to all applications, but particularly with regard to Medicaid applications. The revised settlement requires the County to make further improvements and meet strict compliance requirements within six months with respect to the thousands of food stamp and cash assistance applications filed each month. The settlement also provides that plaintiffs may seek to have the case restored to the Court’s calendar if the County fails to meet the new requirements.

For additional information, contact Tedde Tasheff or Marc Cohan at NCLEJ, (212) 633-6967.