The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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October 17, 2013

Closing statements begin in legal malpractice trial


In a 2009 meeting with a federal prosecutor and Medicare fraud investigator, the city was told to add a second code to claims and informed the feds didn’t see any fraud, Hannafan said. Following the meeting, they applied the second code as instructed.

Further, firefighters believed they were following the ALS assessment rule correctly, Hannafan said, asserting that Walker testified Schultheis’ understanding of the ALS assessment rule was incorrect.

“They had no intention of cheating the federal government,” Hannfan said. “They thought (they were) doing it right.”

If McGovern thought he was defrauding the government, why would he recommend Walker contact Douglas Wolfberg to be used as an expert witness, Hannafan asked.

Moving on to Walker’s interactions with Wolfberg, Hannafan said Walker should have kept track of Wolfberg. According to Wolfberg’s bills, he didn’t start reviewing records until July 12, 2010. The date on which Wolfberg signed a document allowing him to accept records for review also was contrary to Walker’s testimony that Wolfberg mentioned duplicate reports on a March 15, 2010 conference call, Hannafan said.

Walker’s misrepresentation of Wolfberg’s 60 percent advanced life support and 40 percent basic life support ratio as a national standard rather than an off the cuff remark also came under fire during Hannafan’s closing. In a closed session meeting with the city council on April 13, 2010, Walker told the council the city had a real problem based on its 99 percent ALS rate when compared to the 60 percent touted as the national average. Council members during that meeting authorized Walker to offer a $1 million settlement.

At that point, Walker had already contacted Schultheis’ attorney about a settlement, e-mails show.

Hannafan pointed out several times in his closing argument that mistakes are not actionable under the False Claims Act and the claims have to be knowingly or intentionally false. In the 12 days the jury has been hearing testimony, jurors did not see a single claim that was knowingly prepared as false, Hannafan said.

Waterman was expected to deliver his closing arguments this morning, followed by Hannafan’s rebuttal. After closing arguments, it will be up to the jury to decide if Walker and his firm were negligent, if that negligence caused the city damages and if so, how much the city should receive.

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