The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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October 17, 2013

Closing statements begin in legal malpractice trial

(Continued)

Walker’s first breach of the standard of care was accepting the case, Hannafan said. He went on to tell the jury that not filing motions to dismiss the case at an early stage, not talking to paramedics besides EMS Director Andy McGovern, not calling a representative of Firehouse software about the duplicate reports that were discovered and not deposing Schultheis also showed Walker’s negligence.

Hannafan later turned his criticism to Schultheis, calling him a “know-it-all” with “an ax to grind.”

“I think he’s a liar, but that’s for you to decide for yourself,” Hannafan told the jury.

Schultheis filed the False Claims Act case on behalf of the U.S. government under seal in September 2008, a little more than a year after he joined the department and three months before he worked his last shift as a firefighter. The case was unsealed in September 2009 after the government decided not to intervene, which is when the city retained Walker.

When he testified in the first week of trial, Walker detailed several obstacles he saw in the city’s potential to prove it didn’t knowingly submit false claims and in turn defend itself against the allegation of Medicare fraud.

Walker testified he saw the city’s practice of budgeting for 100 percent of its ambulance calls at the higher advanced life support level as a red flag, but he did not ask former fire chief Mark Regenwether about the budgeting process, which Hannfan cited as another negligent act.

The Schultheis complaint alleged the city knowingly, deliberately or recklessly submitted the false claims under the direction of the EMS director and fire chief, McGovern and Regenwether, respectively. McGovern was subject to undeserved abuse, Hannafan told the jury.

McGovern was in charge of training paramedics on coding ambulance runs, which were ultimately billed through accounting specialist Sarah Nolan in the city’s finance department.

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