Archive for Saturday, December 9, 2006

Attorney’s law license suspended for over-charging

December 9, 2006

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

The dispute started in 1995 when then 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 cases filed against the Kansas Workers Compensation Fund. 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 as campaign manager for Republican Ron Todd, the commissioner that Sebelius defeated in the 1994 election.

Sebelius filed a counterclaim that the insurance department had overpaid Miller $426,000 during Todd's tenure. 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's hearing panel found that Miller routinely billed the Kansas Workers Compensation Fund for expenses that he shouldn't have. The fund was financed by assessments to insurance companies.

The hearing panel's presiding officer, Philip Ridenour, wrote: "The generation of thousands and thousands of time slips and the vague, virtually meaningless descriptions of the work performed made it virtually impossible for the respondent's (Miller's) bills to be audited, thereby ensuring the continued success of his dubious billing practices."

The state's high court agreed.

"He clearly used his extensive inside knowledge of the fund's handling of attorney fee billing to develop and implement a plan for the systematic fleecing of the fund for unearned and unreasonable attorney fees," the court said.

Messages left for Miller and his attorney, Nancy Roe of Kansas City, Kan., were not returned, 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 disciplinary board had 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." He also was ordered to pay attorney's fees in the case.

There was no indication in the court opinion as to whether further actions would be taken against Miller.

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

Comments

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 7 months ago

so how does this impact his work comp. clients past and present?

dminear60 8 years, 7 months ago

How said for Chris that he got his ticket punched. Even sadder that one greedy lawyer gives all of us a bad name.

moveforward 8 years, 7 months ago

This is a crime of such gravity (the amount of money and that tax payers are the victoms) that it should be punishable with time in prison. I woul dbet that if audited, you would fins similar practices at nearly every law firm.

At a blue collar level - how is this any different from having a clutch replaced... being charged for what theguide book calles a 10.5 hour job, when the fast mechanic performs the task on my car in 7 hours?

EasilyAmused 8 years, 7 months ago

The only thing it means for past and present clients is that his present clients need to get a new lawyer... at least for the next two years. Because any delay would be out of the hands of the clients the Workers Comp Board/court would allow reasonable continuances so as not to prejudice the clients

rodneyking 8 years, 7 months ago

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers". Henry VI - (Act IV, Scene II)

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 7 months ago

thank you EasilyAmused. It is a shame but at least the time frame of the cases can not come into play against them. Work comp claims seem to take forever as it is with a very small time frame for filing and all that legal stuff.

50YearResident 8 years, 7 months ago

Another Republican with less than honest intentions. It seems to run along party lines. It is like follow the leader, if the President can lie to the people and get away with it, then it is OK for everyone else to lie also. What has happened to good old honesty? Have we become a sociaty of liers and cheaters?

trollkiller 8 years, 7 months ago

50YearResident,

I keep hearing this voice saying, "I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman."

BTW, Jimmy Carter should be tried for Treason.

Have a nice democtatic day.

middleoftheroader 8 years, 7 months ago

Q:Why don't lawyers go to the beach? A:Because the cats keep trying to bury them in the sand. Q: What's wrong with Lawyer jokes? A: Lawyers don't think they're funny, and nobody else thinks they're jokes.

MyName 8 years, 7 months ago

Pay no attention to that Troll behind the curtain! He's just wasting bandwidth. Didn't your mother ever tell you not to post while huffing model glue?

dminear60 8 years, 7 months ago

I cannot say I disagree with the Court's decision to suspend his license. However, I still think it is sad that he threw away his privilege to practice law. I am proud of my chosen profession and while his actions were clearly wrong, you cannot assume the legal profession as a whole is corrupt.

Baille 8 years, 7 months ago

You haven't read the play have you, Mr. King? That quote is not an indictment of lawyers but a nod to their nobility of purpose and an acknowledgement that attorneys are necessary to sustain liberty.

Charlie Bannister 8 years, 7 months ago

Actually Marion, Mr. Miller did not technically defraud the taxpayers. He defrauded the Workman's Compensation Fund, which is financed by assessments on insurance companies, not taxpayers. But you are right, he is disgusting for doing so, which goes to prove there are bad apples in every profession.

Emily Hadley 8 years, 7 months ago

Costs roll downhill? Huh. I thought Republicans believed in the trickle down effect.

One can do business with an insurance company without having paid taxes, unless you mean the taxes on your insurance premiums. I have never been asked for my 1040 to get liability coverage.

Do insurance companies get a cut of sales tax?

This guy is no less a scumbag because of such details. Sounds like he had a good scheme but couldn't get enough--with a bit of investment I could live off that amount of money for the rest of my life.

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