Iowa Appellate Court Reverses $6 Million Nursing Home Negligence Decision Because of Hearsay Testimony
Hearsay in Iowa law is defined as “a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” Click here to read the Iowa Rules of Evidence concerning hearsay. This is the same definition used by the federal courts and most other courts.
Essentially, hearsay is when someone repeats something they heard from another person and presents it as if they know it to be true. Hearsay is often equated to rumor. Hearsay is not admissible due to the nature of speculation required in making such a statement, the fact that such statements are inherently unreliable, and the fact that the actual witness is not in court to answer questions about it. Thus there is no way for a party or the judge to test the credibility of the actual witness or determine facts that may have influenced the observation and statement.
Hearsay is considered unreliable because the person who actually knows what happened (who saw what happened or heard what happened) is not present to be questioned about it. Therefore, there is no way to know what really happened for sure.
Details of the Case.
The employees testifying did not actually witness any such incidents. They were only testifying as to what they had heard someone else say (“hearsay”).
The trial court admitted these statements, allegedly not for their truth, but in an attempt to show that abuse had been reported and there had not been any follow-up investigation. The appellate court stated that this was not a valid reason to admit inadmissible hearsay into evidence because the estate must show clear proof that the conduct existed in order to prevent the jury from engaging in rampant speculation based on unreliable hearsay evidence.
People in today’s society, yes, even judges, often forget this basic principle of law. With all of the completely fabricated lies being put out as “news” on some news channels, with Internet rumors running rampant, and with politicians making egregiously false statements, it’s often hard to remember how to distinguish a fact from unreliable rumor or hearsay.
This is one of the problems with hearsay. It is often just gossip and rumor which change from person to person. Especially egregious conduct, criminal activity, and salacious acts become more and more exaggerated with each retelling. The founding fathers in English and American law realized the inherently unreliable nature of such “evidence.”
Under the hearsay rule, the Court of Appeals agreed with the nursing home that the statements being challenged were inadmissible hearsay evidence that influenced the jury’s verdict. Due to this, the court reversed the verdict and remanded the case for a new trial. To read the court’s opinion in full, click here.
Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.
About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with the health law firm. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm is always looking for qualified attorneys interested in health law practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: KBrant@TheHealthLawFirm.com or fax to: (407) 331-3030.
Iowa Appellate Court Reverses $6 Million Nursing Home Negligence Decision Because of Hearsay Testimony
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On December 7, 2016, Banio Koroma was convicted in a northern Illinois court of falsely certifying elderly patients for in-home care will spend the next three years in prison and be forced to reimburse the government for the $1.5 million in losses he caused, an Illinois federal judge ruled.
Paying For His Crimes.
In June 2016, Banio Koroma, 67, appeared in court in an orange jumpsuit after being jailed for violating his bond when it was discovered that he had again committed fraud by mailing fake checks to strangers. On December 7,2016, he was told he would spend a total of 40 months in prison for the crime that placed him on that bond. The crime committed included cheating Medicaid out of at least $1.5 million during his employment with home health care provider Mobile Doctors USA (Mobile Doctors).
“That sentence would be substantially higher were it not for his age,” U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp said. The judge also ordered restitution of $1.5 million and said that Dr. Koroma would be under three years of supervised probation following his release from prison.
The Fraudulent Scheme.
In 2013, Dr. Koroma was indicted along with Mobile Doctors’ Chief Executive Officer, Dike Ajiri, who pled guilty and was sentenced in May 2016 to 15 months in prison. Dr. Koroma had worked for Mobile Doctors, a company that contracted with physicians to arrange home health care services in Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and elsewhere before its 2013 closure due to the indictment.
According to the government, Dr. Koroma, signed off on documents authorizing the in-home care treatment of elderly patients who were not confined to their homes and could in fact leave their houses to see a doctor.
Prosecutors allege that Dr. Koroma did so without first verifying that the patients were in fact homebound and was motivated purely by greed. A jury convicted him in January 2016 of four counts of Medicare fraud. Click here to read more on his conviction.
To learn more about the repercussions of Medicaid fraud such as this, click here to read one of my prior blogs on a similar case.
Health Care Fraud Should Not Be Taken Lightly.
We have been consulted by many individuals, both before and after criminal charges were brought for fraud or related offenses. In many cases, those subject to Medicare and Medicaid fraud audits and investigations refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter. Some may even decide not to spend the money required for a highly experienced health attorney to defend them.
Click here to read one of my previous blog posts regarding Medicare and Medicaid audits.
The government is serious about combating health care fraud. It created a Medicare Fraud Strike Force in March of 2007, in an effort to further prevent and eliminate fraud and abuse of government health care programs. False claims are a growing problem in the program, costing the government billions of dollars each year. Accordingly, punishments for defrauding the system can be quite severe.
If you are accused of Medicare or Medicaid fraud, realize that you are in a fight for your life. Your liberty, property/possessions and profession are all at stake. Often it is possible to settle allegations of fraud by agreeing to pay civil monetary penalties and fines. If given such an opportunity, the provider should consider whether it is worth the risk of facing decades in prison. Be prepared to give up whatever you need to in order to avoid a conviction and preserve your liberty.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late; Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare and Medicaid Issues Now.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent healthcare providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.
For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.
Corso, Jessica. “Doctor In Home Health Fraud Hit With 3-Year Sentence.” Law360. (December 9, 2016). Web.
Robeznieks, Andis. “Mobile Doctors CEO, physician arrested in alleged Medicare fraud scheme.” Modern Healthcare. (August 27, 2013). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
Keywords: Medicaid audit defense, legal representation for Medicare and Medicaid fraud allegations, legal representation for home health care agencies, health care clinic fraud audit, Medicare and Medicaid fraud defense attorney, Florida health attorney, Florida health lawyer, health care fraud defense lawyer, health care fraud scheme, Medicaid fraud scheme, The Health Law Firm, Medicaid fraud defense lawyer, legal representation for Medicare and Medicaid fraud investigation, co-conspirator in Medicaid fraud scheme, restitution for health care fraud offense, Medicaid reimbursement claims, improper Medicaid billing claims, false claims defense attorney, medical director defense attorney, The Health Law Firm reviews, Florida physician defense attorney, Colorado physician defense lawyer, Kentucky doctor defense counsel, Louisiana physician defense legal representation, District of Columbia physician defense attorney, Virginia physician defnse legal counsel, Florida home health agency (HHA) defense attorney, Colorado home health agency (HHA) defense lawyer, Kentucky home health agency (HHA) defense counsel, Louisiana home health agency (HHA) defense legal representation, District of Columbia home health agency (HHA) defense attorney, Virginia home health agency (HHA) defense attorney
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2016 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.