Archive for Friday, December 8, 2006

Lawrence attorney suspended from law practice

Chris Miller overbilled the Kansas Insurance Department

December 8, 2006


— The Kansas Supreme Court today suspended the law license of Chris Miller, a Lawrence attorney and Republican Party activist, for two years for overbilling the Kansas Insurance Department.

The dispute started in 1995 when newly elected Kansas Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius refused to pay a bill from Miller for $375,900 that he said he was owed for representing the department in workers' compensation cases. Sebelius is now governor.

When Sebelius said the fees were unjustified. Miller sued, alleging Sebelius was striking back at him politically because Miller had worked to get re-elected the incumbent, Republican Ron Todd, the commissioner that Sebelius defeated in the 1994 election.

Sebelius filed a counterclaim that the state had overpaid Miller. Shortly after Sebelius was elected governor in 2002, both sides agreed to dismiss the claims against each other.

But Miller was then brought before the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys over the billing issue.

That board found that Miller routinely billed the insurance department for expenses that he shouldn't have.

Neither Miller nor his attorney, Nancy Roe of Kansas City, Kan. could be immediately reached for comment, but court documents said that Miller agreed that he charged the insurance department unreasonable fees and "disguised overhead expenses as compensable items."

But instead of suspending Miller's license, the board recommended that he be placed on probation to practice law.

But the Supreme Court disagreed, going with the tougher punishment for what it described as "egregious conduct."

The court said Miller's two-year license suspension was appropriate "although the imposition of a more severe discipline could be justified."

Miller has served as chairman of the GOP of Douglas County. His term ended in 2004.

Read the Kansas Supreme Court decision.


Linda Aikins 11 years, 4 months ago

Baille and Jamesaust - thanks for posting. You obviously know the law very well. I appreciate your input!

He was almost my landlord. Thank you Miller for worrying so much about being sued from previous rejections. You saved me an apparently miserable year of renting!

And YES on those awful commercials!

TheOriginalCA 11 years, 4 months ago

I think that Sebelius should be disciplined for never addressing my complaint of Core Source/Health Net when she was Ins Commissioner. This is still impacting us.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 4 months ago

I love that he got caught. What goes around, comes around, eh Chrissy???

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 4 months ago

so will this impact any of the people he represented in work comp cases?

CC 11 years, 4 months ago

Hey Scotty:

Get your facts straight it was Ron Todd not Richard Todd.

Ken Miller 11 years, 4 months ago

Richard Todd was a quarterback for the NY Jets in the 1980s. However, he probably would have been a better Insurance Commissioner than Ron Todd.

EasilyAmused 11 years, 4 months ago

The story never said that the requested 375 K was ever paid.

Baille 11 years, 4 months ago

He would not have to pay back the money through the disciplinary hearing. That was the purpose of the civil suit. According to the article that suit has been dismissed.

Prison time would only come from a criminal case. My guess is that the AG would be the one to prosecute that, but as you may have noticed we have had a spectacularly incompetent AG for the past four years. Of course, this seems to go back to 1995...

As for the disciplinary hearing, it did what it is designed to do. The profession has punished one of its own. It could have been more severe, but two years of not being able to practice is substantial. He has lost a lot more than that in terms of his ability to remain an effective advocate for the long term. What other profession routinely takes away from its members the right to practice their profession when the member does something wrong? Not salesman. Not retailers. Not plumbers, mechanics, or even bankers. Auditors and accountanst seem to slide by unscathed. Or do they? Physicians are notorious for not policing their own and allowing bad doctors to continue hurting people. The police? Sometimes I guess.

In any event, there are three process here by which Mr. Miller could be held accountable: the civil justice system, the criminal justice system, and professional sanctions. The civil suit was dismissed and it does not appear a criminal case was ever filed, but the disciplinary board did what it was designed to do.

Jamesaust 11 years, 4 months ago

Its an interesting case. There are two things this short article does not explain well .

First, the Disciplinary Board recommended its suspended sentence because "judgment" against Miller was being made many years after the conduct and no further conduct in the meanwhile had occurred. The SC rejected this emphasizing that punishment was necessary even if delayed and that good conduct by someone who knows that they are being watched after being shown to be disreputable isn't very impressive.

Second, the degree of misconduct - what one Board member termed "astonishing greed" - was quite unique here. Miller had earlier worked for the State's Insurance Department and USED his knowledge of the billing process there to carry out his overbilling. In other words, this wasn't some lapse in judgment, or something that "just happened" (which many of us are capable of) but determined fraud requiring significant planning in advance and serious effort in the furtherance of that did not cease until discovered after 9 years.

In short, Miller is darned lucky not to have been disbarred.

djazz 11 years, 4 months ago

Yes, agree.

I think Lawyers can slide by maybe one complaint. But after that they are subect to all the constraints everyone else is.

No crossing the line Lawyers. Tow the line like all of us. Follow the rules. Be Honest.

kolisach 11 years, 4 months ago

Chris Miller was my landlord 7 years ago and was a complete dud. Such a slumlord!!! I drive by the house now and can't believe that it is still standing.

And now we won't have to see his bad commercials.

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