The Connecticut nursing home company where striking workers became a political issue two years ago has subpoenaed several of the state’s top elected leaders, including Gov. Dannel Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen.
HealthBridge, owner of eight Connecticut nursing homes, sued the unions striking at five of its locations in 2012 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, legislation originally intended to fight the mob.
Lawyers for the defendants in the suit – the New England Health Care Employers Union, also known as Service Employees International Union 1199NE, and United Healthcare Workers East, another SEIU affiliate – objected to the subpoenas in a Feb. 21 court filing.
HealthBridge subpoenaed Jepsen and Malloy’s office, plus both of their campaign committees, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, state Sen. John Fonfara and state Rep. Russ Morin.
All of the subpoenaed officials are Democrats.
“We have received the subpoenas and are reviewing them,” said Jaclyn Falkowski, a spokeswoman for Jepsen. “We have no further comment at this time.”
Leon Dayan of Bredhoff & Kaiser said in his objection the subpoenas are too broad especially for “this early phase of discovery, which is required to be limited in nature.”
According to Dayan’s objection, HealthBridge issued 92 document requests and 25 interrogatories.
“The depositions’ sole purpose appears to be the improper one of sending the message that if a union or other organization dares to exercise its First Amendment right to petition government officials in a manner that displeases Plaintiffs or their owner, not only will that organization be subject to a harassing lawsuit, but all the organization’s perceived political and other allies can expect to be harassed and have their costs driven up as well,” Dayan wrote.
“Absent intervention by this Court, sitting elected officials and their staffs will be forced to take time away from working for their constituents.”
Dayan also objected to HealthBridge’s efforts not to disclose the name of the former union organizer upon whose testimony the company is relying to make some of its claims.
The Blumenthal subpoena, included in Dayan’s objection, requests documents related to:
– HealthBridge’s application to close a Wethersfield nursing home,
– alleged sabotage by striking workers,
– efforts to put HealthBridge nursing homes into receivership.
Jepsen recused himself from any investigations into union sabotage after joining strikers on the picket line.
Company contributions to union pension funds have long been part of the labor dispute at the five nursing homes, which declared bankruptcy last year.
Update: Now with link to objection.