NJ Court Filings Show Gross Exaggeration in HealthBridge Bankrutpcy Claims

Recent filings in the ongoing Bankruptcy case of HealthBridge nursing homes in Connecticut cast serious doubt on the financial claims made the New Jersey-based company, which HealthBridge used to avoid complying with the terms of a CT federal court injunction.

“We always knew HealthBridge would say or do anything, concoct any tall tale in order to avoid obeying the law,” said Noreen Strempski, a Certified Nursing Assistant at the Danbury Health Care Center. “Now we have the evidence – in the words and documents of their own Vice-President.”

At the most recent bankruptcy hearing, testimony about the financial budget projections the company made to the court“revealed an aggregate favorable variance of $4,412,511” – meaning that the five nursing homes took in $4.4 million more than they projected when they argued in late February that the changes had to be imposed in order to remain in operation.

As a result of the multi-million dollar discrepancy. the Judge temporarily altered the contract modifications, restoring the 40 hour work week, six paid sick days, two personal days and resuming payments to the training fund – but only through October 11.

But, even as it continues to cry poverty, HealthBridge appears ready and able to expend millions of dollars on attorneys’ fees to argue their bankruptcy claims and resist compliance with the federal injunction. In exhibits filed in bankruptcy court last week, the company projects spending $1.78 Million over the next 13 weeks in attorneys’ fees alone for “Debtor Counsel,” “Special/Union Counsel” and “UCC Counsel.”

On December 11, 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny issued an injunction against HealthBridge ordering the company to reinstate more than 600 health care workers to their former positions under their previous wages, benefits and working conditions after a lengthy strike at five Connecticut nursing homes. The company petitioned for a stay of the injunction all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court and was twice rejected by that body.

Just before workers were to return to work in March 2013, the five nursing homes petitioned the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New Jersey for bankruptcy protection, which would permit modifications to the workers’ employment conditions, effectively negating Judge Chatigny’s order to restore the terms of the previous labor agreements.

David Pickus, President of District 1199, said, “It has been evident to us from the beginning that HealthBridge was manipulating the bankruptcy process to avoid complying with a lawful federal court injunction. They lost virtually every legal battle—with the National Labor Relations Board, with the U.S. District Court, with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, even with the most conservative Judges on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“The calculations they used to persuade Judge Steckroth to evade their obligations under the law were grossly exaggerated. Every argument HealthBridge makes – in public or in court – is designed to obscure the truth and maximize their ability to profit while crying poverty, all at the expense of its beleaguered workers.”

“It’s immoral that a company like this, which rakes in multi-millions each year in public taxpayer dollars through Medicaid and Medicare, uses those profits to fund high-priced, high-profile attorneys whose mission is to help HealthBridge get away with violating the law and the public trust. ”

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