Suit Seeks Answers About LICH’s Othmer Funds

Brooklyn resident Barbara Gartner, a former Long Island College Hospital patient, has filed suit to compel the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau “to compel the release of records relating to the … Bureau’s approvals of invasions of the hospital’s $140 million Othmer Endowment Fund.” Ms. Gartner’s request for the records, made under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, was given a blanket denial by the Charities Bureau.

The story of how the Othmer Fund was created is told in this earlier post. The principal was supposed to be maintained in perpetuity and the income used for LICH’s benefit. LICH’s previous owner, Continuum Health Partners, got permission from the Charities Bureau to invade the principal, contrary to the terms of the Othmer bequest, for purposes that included posting collateral for loans. When ownership of LICH was transferred to SUNY, the balance of the principal was borrowed by SUNY, again with the Bureau’s approval, for use as a fund for the payment of potential liabilities of LICH. SUNY agreed that it would eventually replenish the fund, but later said it only would if it could.

Ms. Gartner’s case is supported by an advisory opinion of the New York Department of State’s Committee on Open Government, stating that the Charities Bureau’s denial of the FOIL request was “improper” and that “the denial appears to be inconsistent with the language and intent of the Freedom of Information Law and its judicial construction.”

The Cobble Hill Association, Concerned Physicians of LICH, and Patients For LICH have all issued statements supporting Ms. Gartner’s suit. Her lawyer, David A. Kaplan, said oral argument in the case will be held on Friday, September 26.

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  • davoyager

    Now that’s what I’m talking about.

  • Rick

    “SUNY agreed that it would eventually replenish the fund, but later said it only would if it could.”

    Cool! I’m going to run up big bills with SUNY and agree to pay them, but will later say what I meant was “I only would if I could.”

  • Moni

    The closing of LICH — where I and my spouse several times received excellent services, once in a life threatening circumstance — was a disgrace, a crying shame and another example of how greed still triumphs over all in the USA today. The locals who trashed the hospital as supposedly underperforming had no clue as to the real scam behind LICH’s “decline” and by the tone of their dismissive comments, I judged them to be disciples of the “greed is good” philosophy,self-satisfied oafs who
    were certain they’d have plenty of time to trot over to Manhattan if ill health ever befell them. The closing of hospitals here and elsewhere is a terrible example of how greedy people, like stupid and ignorant people, often work against their own best interests — just like the super rich, by destroying the middle class, are working against theirs.

  • Ann B Chapin

    I have known Barbara for many years and support her! You go girl!! The use of Othmer Endowment Fund is a discrace and illegal as I see it!

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    This is not over. Vote Cuomo out!

    Zephyr Teachout Calls For Probe Into Cuomo’s LI College Hospital Deal

  • Moni

    Teachout will have my vote. Dump Cuomo!

  • Doug Biviano

    I was only candidate there with Zephyr Teachout today

  • Doug Biviano

    Doug Biviano was only candidate there with Zephyr Teachout today

  • Doug Biviano

    Biviano was only candidate there with Zephyr Teachout today

  • Ebenezer

    Yes, a disgrace

  • Bonnie McEwan

    I think the Charities Bureau should be investigated. I can’t imagine what sort of justification they have for allowing so blatant a subversion of the terms of the Othmers’ bequest.

    Who, exactly, are these people at the Charities Bureau who made this decision? I have worked in major, national nonprofit organizations and foundations throughout a 30 year career and the opaque behavior of these decision makers is completely at odds with best practice.