By Arthur Z. Schwartz
In November 2017, a lawsuit entitled Progressive Action of Lower Manhattan, George Capsis, and Arthur Schwartz v. Howard Zucker, as Commissioner of the NYS Department of Health, and Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital was filed in New York State Supreme Court. The goal: to not only stop the shutdown of Beth Israel Hospital and prevent the loss of vital services, but also to restore those services which have already been lost, including a maternity unit and cardiac surgery.
The lawsuit alleges that the NYS Department of Health (DOH) acted improperly when it allowed Beth Israel to file for approvals in a piecemeal fashion and did not evaluate the project as a whole under the NYS Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). SEQRA would have required an Environmental Impact Statement, and subjected the project to public review and input. The DOH also allowed Mount Sinai Beth Israel to submit its requests for DOH approval (called ‘Certificate of Needs’ applications) in a manner which evaded the normal public review process under the DOH regulations.
The lawsuit is going through a preliminary round of procedural objections, ranging from timeliness to the standing of the plaintiffs to bring the lawsuit. Mount Sinai Beth Israel calls the lawsuit a “one man crusade brought by a paper organization and an incompetent old man (George Capsis).” The matter will be submitted to Supreme Court Justice Shlomo Hagler on March 26th. He will set a date for arguments shortly thereafter. We will keep you updated.