The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Clinton

September 30, 2013

UPDATE: Opening statements begin tomorrow in Walker trial

DAVENPORT — UPDATE: With a jury selected, the attorneys on both sides of the city of Clinton's legal malpractice suit will deliver opening statements Tuesday morning. 

Jury selection lasted until 2:45 p.m. Monday, the first day of the trial in the city's legal malpractice suit against Michael Walker and his law firm Hopkins and Huebner P.C.

Walker is the attorney who represented the city in the emergency medical services case that resulted in the city settling with whistleblower Timothy Schultheis and the U.S. Department of Justice for $4.5 million in 2010.

Walker’s firm was retained to represent the city’s interests in 2009 after Schultheis made a claim that emergency medical calls handled by city ambulances were being improperly coded. By coding even routine calls as emergency calls, Schultheis claimed the city was able to receive higher reimbursement rates from Medicare and Medicaid.

The city alleges Walker negligently failed to properly and adequately analyze the case and is seeking to recoup the expenses of the settlement along with other fees, totaling $4.67 million.

Mayor Mark Vulich appeared for the city along with the attorneys it has hired for the legal malpractice suit from Chicago law firm, Hannafan and Hannafan, as well as Davenport firm Gosman, Tarbox and Associates. Walker was present with his attorneys from the Davenport firm Lane and Waterman. Judge Nancy Tabor is presiding over the case.

As the first day of the 12-day trial got under way at the Scott County courthouse in Davenport, attorneys representing both the city and Walker asked more than 25 potential jurors various questions in order to pare down the pool.

After questioning concluded, both the plaintiff and defendant chose four jurors apiece, creating a five-woman, three-man jury. 

The parties decided not to proceed with the opening statements after jury selection concluded because they wanted to present them in the same day and the city's is expected to last for one hour. 

Before they were selected, potential jurors were asked to answer   myriad of questions. Eight people had been excused by the time the lawyers stopped to make their selections. 

Jurors responded to questions from both plaintiff and defense attorneys about their experience with medical billing, the city of Clinton or other factors, such as their opinions on whistleblowers, that could affect their ability to be an impartial juror.

Mike Hannafan asked potential jurors if anyone would have trouble awarding the city the amount it seeks even if the city proves its case that Walker's failure to properly analyze the EMS billing case resulted in the city settling. 

"Is there anyone here who would hesitate if the evidence supported it?" he asked. "That's a lot of dough, so is there anyone here who would be reluctant or hesitate to award $4.67 million?"

One woman raised her hand. 

"I'm just of a mind that that's too much money," she said. "Greed comes to mind."

Following her admission, she was excused.

Bob Waterman, who is representing Walker, asked if anyone would have a problem ruling the other way. 

"Anyone have a problem if the city of Clinton does not prove their case, giving them zero, nothing?" he asked, to which no one raised a hand. 

Jurors also were asked if they had any knowledge of the legal malpractice suit or the underlying EMS case. While none of the potential jurors said they knew any details of either case, a couple said they had heard about it in passing.

One man, who formerly lived in Clinton, was taken outside of the courtroom to discuss with the attorneys and Tabor what he knew about a case the city had been involved in. After returning, he was excused. 

Another man was excused after he said he did not feel he could "sit in judgment of someone."  

The remaining five excused jurors were let go for various reasons, including scheduling conflicts.

Text Only
Clinton
  • 7-24-14 1B-Photo, Choice 2 Cinderella run ends DUBUQUE — The playoff run was fun while it lasted. Dubuque Hempstead, the No. 1-ranked baseball team in Class 4A entering Wednesday, ended Clinton’s chances at back-to-back appearances in the state tournament in Des Moines. The Mustangs knocked out t

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-24-14 Used Book Sale Prep Finding a (temporary) new home CLINTON — The harsh winter delivered a devastating loss to the Friends of the Library.Now, months later, the Friends have regrouped and are ready to showcase its used books — albeit in a new school building.For several years, the Friends hosted its a

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged with burglarizing cars CLINTON — A homeless Clinton man is currently held in the Clinton county jail on a $2,000 cash bond, on charges related to the Monday morning burglary of parked cars.Austin W. E. Housley, 20, is charged with possession of burglary tools, two counts o

    July 24, 2014

  • LUMBERKINGS Barbosa uses past as motivation CLINTON — Clinton LumberKings outfielder Aaron Barbosa is just like one of the guys, but his path to Clinton is unlike the others.Barbosa was undrafted after playing his college baseball at Northeastern University, but he had a chance to display his

    July 24, 2014

  • 7-24-14 1B-Photo, LumberKings pitcher Homestand starts with a victory CLINTON — Eddie Campbell allowed one run in his sixth quality start of the year Wednesday as Clinton opened a six-game homestand against the best two teams from the Midwest League’s Eastern Division with a 4-2 win against West Michigan at Ashford Uni

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stewart McCaskill photo McCaskill settles into new role at shoe store CLINTON — An Oklahoma boy at heart, Stewart McCaskill is settling into Clinton and Brown’s Shoe Fit.The 35-year-old has worked with the Brown’s Shoe Fit company for seven years. His brother-in-law, who manages a Brown’s in Colorado, brought Stewart i

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council backs down CLINTON – By Tuesday’s end, many were content with the Clinton City Council’s decision. Property owners adjacent to the proposed 13th Avenue North and North 14th Street sidewalk sites are happy they won’t be assessed to build the sidewalks; four of s

    July 24, 2014

  • UPDATED: Arbitrator rules in favor of Clinton firefighters

    Gallagher rules in favor of Union's wages and insurance proposals over the city's.

    July 23, 2014

  • 7-23-14 3B-Photo, Clinton baseball Kings feel re-energized (with VIDEOS & PHOTO ALBUM)

    CLINTON -- There’s nothing like a postseason run to get the juices flowing again and jumpstart a baseball season that at times was trying.The atmosphere around the Clinton High School program is upbeat these days. One game away from a second consecut

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • At the pool Summer heat may be temporary (wtih VIDEO)

    CLINTON — Just two days past the mid-point of summer, Clinton recorded its first 90 degree day of the season.Though it's not a very common summer trend in the Clinton area, there have actually been several July months over the years that never even r

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Facebook