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"Right down to the wire" Lawsuit over unemployment benefits moved back to state court

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Posted at 6:06 PM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 06:59:25-04

BALTIMORE — A federal judge granted the request of attorneys representing unemployment insurance claimants to move their lawsuit back to state court.

The six Marylanders are seeking to halt Governor Hogan's decision to end federal unemployment insurance programs on July 3.

The lawsuit was filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, the plaintiffs attorneys, Public Justice Center and Gallagher Evelius & Jones LLP, received notice that the case had been moved to federal court at the request of Governor Hogan and Secretary of Labor Tiffany Robinson's attorneys.

The plaintiffs attorneys then filed an emergency motion to send the case back to state court.

On Thursday afternoon, a federal judge granted the motion.

United States District Judge Richard D. Bennett wrote:
"Simply put, the State of Maryland’s decision to terminate the receipt of federal funding is a public policy decision that does not create a question of federal law requiring this Court to determine the validity, construction, or effect of the CARES Act."

Attorneys representing the claimants are now waiting for a hearing to be scheduled on the temporary restraining order seeking to continue federal pandemic programs past the July 3 cutoff.

On Thursday evening, the Magistrate for the Circuit Court for Baltimore City wrote:
"The Court is currently reviewing the papers filed in the subject matter, and those filed in the case brought by Mr. Summerfield and Mr. Leonard to make a determination concerning a hearing on the motion for TRO. If a hearing is held, it will likely be tomorrow afternoon via Zoom for Government. I will provide an update as soon as I have one.”

The Maryland Unemployed Workers Union and pro bono attorney Alec Summerfield also filed a lawsuit last week.

On Wednesday, attorneys representing Governor Hogan and Secretary Robinson, filed a motion to move that case to federal court. A hearing on the temporary restraining order was scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday, however, Summerfield withdrew the case from federal court. He amended the complaint then refiled in Baltimore City Circuit Court on Thursday.

Summerfield said it's coming "right down to the wire," but he believes this is not a federal issue and filed in state court for a reason. Recently, a state judge in Indiana sided with claimants to temporarily overturn the governor's decision to exit federal pandemic programs early. Summerfield is hoping a state judge will do the same in Maryland.

A hearing for this lawsuit has not yet been scheduled.

This story will be updated with any developments.