The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Clinton

October 18, 2013

City: Rules akin to 'Jaberwocky'

DAVENPORT — Medicare regulations are akin to Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem “Jaberwocky,” an attorney representing the city of Clinton in its legal malpractice suit told jurors Thursday.

As Mike Hannafan gave his rebuttal closing argument Thursday, he brandished a copy of Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There” in an effort to convey the complexities and idiosyncrasies of Medicare regulations at the center of the city’s legal malpractice case and its underlying Medicare fraud case.

The trial in the city’s legal malpractice case against attorney Michael Walker and his law firm Hopkins and Hubener ended Thursday with Walker’s attorney Bob Waterman delivering his closing argument and Hannafan giving his rebuttal.

Walker is accused of failing to properly analyze a 2009 Federal False Claims act case against the city that was filed by former Clinton firefighter Timothy Schultheis. Schultheis claimed the city knowingly submitted false ambulance claims to Medicare and Medicaid in order to obtain higher reimbursements. His case was filed under seal in Sept. 2008 and unsealed a year later after the federal government declined to intervene.

As a result of Walker’s negligence, the city alleges it rushed into a $4.5 million settlement with Schultheis and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Hannafan refuted the accusation the city knew the claims it was submitted were false, reminding the jury of the various manuals and materials EMS Director Andrew McGovern used to determine how to code ambulance reports as advanced life support or basic life support as well as the spot checks and audits McGovern and the department’s medical director performed. During trial the city and the defense argued the county did not have a dispatch protocol in place for the city to apply the ALS assessment rule as it did. Hannafan said McGovern felt the county had a dispatch protocol during the period under scrutiny in the Schultheis case.

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