Justia Professional Malpractice & Ethics Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

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In 2009 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) suspected that Dr. Melgen, a Florida-based ophthalmologist​, had overbilled Medicare for $8.9 million by engaging in “multi-dosing.” Before CMS began formal proceedings, U.S. Senator Menendez (New Jersey) began to advocate on behalf of the doctor. In 2015, a 22-count indictment charged that Menendez solicited and accepted numerous gifts from Melgen; used the power of his office to influence the CMS enforcement action and to encourage the State Department and U.S. Customs to intervene on Melgen’s behalf in a multimillion dollar contract dispute with the Dominican Republic. The Third Circuit affirmed denial of motions to dismiss the Indictment, finding that the senator is not protected from prosecution under the Speech or Debate Clause, U.S. Const. art. I, section 6, cl. 1, which states that Members of Congress “shall not be questioned in any other Place” for “any Speech or Debate in either House.” The charged actions were not protected "legislative acts." The court rejected a separation of powers challenge to the Ethics in Government Act, 5 U.S.C. app. 4, 101-11; 18 U.S.C. 1001, and noted the Supreme Court’s statement “that Members [of Congress] are not to be ‘super-citizens’ immune from criminal liability or process.” View "United States v. Menendez" on Justia Law

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Whiteside represented the County of Camden in a lawsuit brought by Anderson, which resulted in a jury award paid, in part, by the County’s excess insurer, National. According to National, the County did not notify it of the lawsuit until several months after it was filed. Whiteside initially informed National that the case was meritless and valued it at $50,000. During trial, Whiteside changed her valuation and requested the full $10 million policy limit to settle Anderson’s claims. National conducted an independent review and denied that request. The jury awarded Anderson $31 million, which was remitted to $19 million. Days later, National sought a declaratory judgment that it was not obligated to provide coverage because the County had breached the policy contract by failing to timely notify National of the case and by failing to mount an adequate investigation and defense. National also asserted claims against Whiteside for legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract. The court dismissed those claims because National could not demonstrate that Whiteside’s actions proximately caused it to suffer any damages. The Third Circuit dismissed and appeal for lack of jurisdiction, finding National’s notice of appeal untimely under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(1), View "State Nat'l Ins. Co v. County of Camden" on Justia Law