SCHENECTADY — A judge on Wednesday allowed St. Clare’s Hospital pensioners to continue their legal efforts to regain their lost pension benefits.
The Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York said state Supreme Court Judge Vincent Versaci denied motions by the St. Clare’s Corporation, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and various officers of both organizations to dismiss the pensioners’ lawsuit.
More than 100 former employees of the defunct Schenectady hospital are named as plaintiffs in the case, brought in September by the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Brooklyn Legal Services, AARP Foundation, David Pratt, and James Reilly.
The move came about a year after the chronically underfunded pension fund reached a crisis point and its managers reduced or eliminated the monthly pension checks paid to more than 1,000 former employees.
The lawsuit alleges breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.
Wednesday’s ruling and other small victories for the pensioners have not changed the underlying reality: They’ve gone a year and a half without a significant chunk of the retirement income they had budgeted. The hospital was merged out of existence a dozen years ago, and the pensioners will need to win a tough court fight if they are to force some other entity to make them whole.
Nonetheless, leaders of the pensioners’ effort have tried to remain optimistic, noting that they are at least gaining the traction they initially were unable to develop.