It's Getting Expensive As City, Whistleblowing Auditor Wrangle Over Retaliation Claims

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Of the myriad lawsuits involving the city, Doug Moore v. City of Dallas et al is among the most expensive -- and getting a little more pricey all the time. This case, for those not keeping score at home, has already cost the city $2.5 million, paid to the state and the feds in June over allegations that the Dallas Fire-Rescue and ambulance provider Southwest General Services of Dallas collected far more from Medicare and Medicaid than they should have by knowingly billing the government for "Advanced Life Support (ALS) level ambulance services for all 911 calls, regardless of whether the beneficiary's condition required that level of service."

It could have been worse: When the filed-in-'09 case came to light last summer, after it was unsealed in federal court, guesstimations were the city could owe close to $40 mil. When it settled with the feds and state earlier this summer, the city didn't admit to any wrongdoing or liability.

But the case is far from settled. On the other side are the docs filed in recent days as the City Attorney's Office and Moore -- who worked in the Fraud Waste and Abuse section of the City Auditor's Office and who blew the whistle on the overcharges to begin with -- wrestle over whether the city fired Moore for telling the feds about DFR and the ambulance provider's overcharges. Meanwhile, the city council will approve next week to spend even more money with Cathy E. Bennett & Associates, Inc., hired in April "for jury and trial consultant services." Initially the city agreed to spend $25,000 for Bennett's services; next week, the amount will increase to $100,000 out of the general fund. Because, far as the city's concerned ...

Twice this summer City Attorney Tom Perkins's office has filed a motion for summary judgment, including on July 29, insisting that in November 2009, City Auditor Craig Kinton and Perkins learned that "Moore had filed a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging that the City (DFR) was fraudulently billing Medicare and Medicaid by 'upcoding' and billing all ambulance transports at the ALS level." Moore claimed in his complaint that the city has received close to $26 million in Medicaid and Medicare overpayments.

His sealed suit didn't sit well with the city, which says it was in the middle of investigating the auditor's results when he filed the suit. As the city explained in a press release accompanying the June 2001 settlement, "Under the False Claims Act and Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act, private individuals may bring actions alleging fraud on behalf of the U.S. and Texas and collect a share of any proceeds recovered by the suit. Mr. Moore can receive up to 30% of the recovery under the settlement."

According to the latest filing by the city, chief auditor Craig Kinton fired Moore on December 2, 2009, "because Moore violated his fiduciary responsibilities to the City and the City Auditor's Office" and was in "an adversarial relationship" with his employer. In other words, he now had a stake in the outcome of the audit's results.

That's now how Moore sees it. Far as he's concerned, the city axed him purely out of retaliation. Both parties make their cases below. Dallas Motion for Summary JudgmentBriefs in Support of Summary Judgment MotionReponse to City's Motion for Summary J
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12 comments
BCulbreath
BCulbreath

I used the Ambulance service and Medicare was billed $787.00. I looked at bill and knew EMS did not do what was on bill .I called City and Medicare to have bill adjusted. I knew because of my medical background people who don't know is how they were able to over bill.I think City was aware of this max. charge on ambulance service how can they account for all that money over budget income.What did they do with extra money?

replay
replay

City of Dallas! Wake up and pay the man! You know, and a jury will know, you DID retaliate against him because he broke from your ranks, decided he did not want to be involved in breaking laws, and reported your wrongdoings to the authorities. Now, we all understand that you did not admit any wrongdoing in the $2.5M settlement, but all of us little people know you would not have agreed to settle if you had not done something wrong (in fact, you probably settled for fear of the $40Million judgement). Get over it, be honorable and show some integrity for a change!

ThePeople
ThePeople

Here goes Tom Perkins employing his normal strategy of litigating his wrongdoings versus settling them to save money. Oh, but its taxpayer money (monopoly money) so its there to be abused/used. His large stable of attorneys need something to after all. Would he need such a large stable of attorneys if he didnt have this idiotic strategy of litigating City Halls wrongdoings versus settling? Hell no. Lets get rid of this A-Hole. 

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

"Initially the city agreed to spend $25,000 for Bennett's services; next week, the amount will increase to $100,000"

A 400% increase in their bill? Who does Bennet think they are? A Trinity River contractor?

Also "'an adversarial relationship' with his employer." well that's one way of describing reporting illegal conduct by your employer.

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

Interesting to see Waters & Kraus in a whistleblower case.  And some Michigan guys.  Just a little odd.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Perkins has created his own "virtual law firm" supported 100% by City of Dallas taxpayers.  From his standpoint, the more litigation, the better.

In all seriousness, how many other municipal legal departments have their own websites dedicated exclusively to their own legal department?  Check out  http://www.dallascityattorney....

It's completely crazy....

Also, there's all sorts of weird/interesting stuff that comes out from reviewing the info on there:  like, why is legal counsel to the DFW Airport Board (Sandra Perkins) on CITY staff as an Assistant City Attorney.  The DFW Airport Board is an independent government agency that should be paying the costs of its own staff.

It would be interesting to know how the size of the City of Dallas' legal department compares to that of other cities of comparable size.

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

If the City had a good case, these consultants would take the case on contingency. However, since they want to be paid as they go, we all should know what the outcome of the lawsuit will be. The City of Dallas (us taxpayers) will lose again.

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

City of Dallas bills DFW Airport $20,000.00 per month for legal council.We don't like the fact that our Counsel works for Tom Perkins but Dallas City Council wants it that way.DFW is only independent government agency that pays for legal Counsel and does not supervise nor hire the Counsel. DART does not have that arrangement nor does new City own Hotel or American Airline center.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Yes, but Tom Perkins wins, because he continues to generate more business for his pseudo law firm with one ideal client:  the large and extremely unsophisticated consumer of legal services known as the City of Dallas.

From his perspective, the more stuff that gets screwed up, the better.  Who's going to rein him?  Certainly not Mary Suhm or the idiots on the City Council.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Thanks for the explanation, Ms. Culbreath.  Doesn't that seem kind of screwy?  What does the City of Ft. Worth think about this arrangement?  It is easy to envision many scenarios in which the interests of the City of Dallas and those of the DFW Airport Board would be in conflict.

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