The city has filed suit against its former attorneys, Hopkins & Huebner, P.C., claiming that the firm negligently failed to properly and adequately analyze a 2010 Emergency Medical Services billing case.

As a result of this alleged negligence, the city entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and whistleblower Timothy Schultheis that will require the city to pay a fine of $4.5 million over the course of 10 years.

According to a press release sent out Wednesday evening, the City Council feels that the trust placed in the advice, counsel and opinions of Michael C. Walker of Hopkins and Huebner, P.C., resulted in members not being properly advised about the extent of the city’s liability.

Walker’s firm was retained to represent the city’s interests 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 that the city was able to receive higher reimbursement rates from Medicare and Medicaid. The city paid over $160,000 in legal fees leading up to the settlement.

Since the agreement was reached, Fire Chief Mark Regenwether and EMS Director Andrew McGovern were both reinstated by a Civil Service Commission ruling after originally losing their jobs, and City Council members began distancing themselves from the settlement.

Walker could not be reached for comment this morning.