The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Top News

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
Top News
  • Fist bump photo Study: Fist bumps less germy than handshakes

    When it comes to preventing the spread of germs, maybe the president is on to something with his fondness for fist bumps.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rodden, Danny.jpg Indiana sheriff accused of lying about relationship with prostitute

    The sheriff of Clark County, Ind., faces an eight-count federal indictment that accuses him of lying about paying a prostitute for a sex act and giving her a badge so that she could claim a discount rate at a hotel.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clinton judge hears motion to suppress in drug case

    District Court Judge Stuart Werling will consider a motion of suppression against a warrant that led to the arrest of a Clinton man on drug charges.

    July 30, 2014

  • David Johnson Clinton grad, NDSU picked to lead MVC

     David Johnson, the former Clinton High standout now entering his senior season at the University of Northern Iowa, was named to the preseason All-Missouri Valley Football Conference first team that was announced Tuesday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • School supplies offered at events

    With students going back to school soon, Clinton families will have two opportunities to receive free back-to-school supplies.

    July 30, 2014

  • Showboat follies Iafrate set to leave Showboat Theatre

    As the summer season nears its end, the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre on Tuesday honored the past and said hello to the future.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sidewinders photo Debating decibels: Finally Fridays, Showboat at odds over concert volume

    Two events will take center stage at the riverfront Friday. And if it’s anything like the last time these entities shared the same evening, both crowds may want to take note of the decibel levels coming from the bandshell.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140727-AMX-GUNS271.jpg Beretta, other gun makers heading to friendlier states

    In moving south and taking 160 jobs with it, Beretta joins several other prominent gunmakers abandoning liberal states that passed tough gun laws after the Newtown shooting.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video