By exposing unlawfully rendered medical treatment, Zausmer shareholder Jim Wright and associate Adam Post recently forced multiple medical providers in a first-party no-fault lawsuit to voluntarily dismiss their claims against our client, Auto-Owners Insurance Company.
The lawsuit stemmed from a March 2014 auto accident that resulted in only minor damage to the individual plaintiff’s vehicle. During discovery, Jim and Adam consulted a biomechanical engineer who conducted a thorough investigation of the vehicle, medical records, and the plaintiff’s deposition testimony. The expert concluded that the speed of the collision was 8.2 mph and would have caused the plaintiff’s head to experience no more than an acceleration of 2.7 mph – a speed consistent with walking – and that the impact could not have induced or contributed to the disc herniation and spinal trauma the plaintiff allegedly sustained.
More suspicious, however, was the medical care the plaintiff allegedly received. Following the accident, the plaintiff drove himself to the emergency room, where he was evaluated and released. He did not seek follow-up treatment for two months until he was referred by his attorneys to a “wellness center” in May 2014, where he was treated by a “doctor” who directed all of the plaintiff’s treatment and issued a work restriction that limited any lifting to weights of ten pounds or less. The plaintiff was also referred to other providers for additional treatment.
Investigation into the plaintiff’s care revealed that the “doctor” may not have been a licensed medical professional (contrary to referring to himself as an M.D.) and the “wellness center” was not a licensed medical facility. In the absence of valid licenses, under Michigan’s no-fault laws they are not entitled to compensation from the insurance carrier. Jim and Adam filed a motion to exclude the intervening providers’ bills as evidence at trial because their services constituted fraudulent and unlawfully rendered medical treatment. The motion also sought to exclude the bills of the subsequent healthcare providers, arguing that their treatment flowed from the initial, unlawfully-rendered treatment.
Earlier in the suit, Jim and Adam pressured the individual plaintiff to dismiss his claim, which was in excess of $100,000.00, and they agreed to a small settlement with a (licensed) surgical practice seeking compensation as an intervening plaintiff. Before the court could rule on the motion to exclude, the remaining medical providers agreed to voluntarily dismiss their claims, avoiding a trial and saving our client from tens of thousands of dollars in additional potential exposure.