Settlement Secures Continuing Benefits for Thousands of New York City Recipients Awaiting Hearing Decisions

On April 2, 2013, the United States District Court in New York approved the class action settlement entered into between New York City residents, who are entitled to aid continuing pending the outcome of fair hearing decisions regarding the discontinuance, suspension, reduction, or restriction of food stamps and cash assistance, and City and State officials. The settlement was reached inMorel v. Giuliani, a long-standing litigation in which plaintiffs, represented by the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, the Legal Aid Society, and New York Legal Assistance Group, had earlier secured a preliminary injunction requiring defendants to take various measures to ensure plaintiffs’ due process rights were protected.

Pursuant to the settlement, both the State and City defendants are required to comply with specific requirements regarding the receipt and handling of fair hearing requests. The settlement requires the State defendant within 3 days of receipt of a fair hearing request to both determine whether aid continuing is appropriate and to electronically direct the City defendant to provide the aid. In turn, the settlement requires the City defendant to implement the aid continuing directive within 5 days. The settlement also provides for an extensive and elaborate system for monitoring defendant’s compliance with applicable law.

Marc Cohan of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice is co-counsel on this case with Kenneth Stephens (the Legal Aid Society), and Camille L. Zentner (New York Legal Assistance Group), and Ian Feldman (formerly with the Legal Aid Society and now with the Urban Justice Center).