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Rehearings - 8/17/12

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

Former fugitive doctor enters guilty plea - IL Rehearing "Disgraced 'Nose Doctor' keeping lawyers busy" June 22-July 5, 2012

A former Merrillville ear, nose and throat doctor who eluded authorities for more than five years before his capture on a snowy Italian mountainside pleaded guilty to felony charges of insurance fraud July 23.

Mark Weinberger, 49, built a multi-million-dollar practice billing himself as “The Nose Doctor.” He abandoned the practice in 2004, disappearing while vacationing in Greece. He was captured in 2009 and extradited to the United States, where he had debts totaling millions of dollars and faces hundreds of malpractice claims.

Weinberger pleaded guilty before Chief Judge Philip Simon in the Hammond Division of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. Sentencing is set for Oct. 12, and he faces up to 10 years in prison if Simon accepts the plea.

Simon told the Post-Tribune of Merrillville, “I’m virtually certain I’m going to accept the plea agreement.”

It’s the second time Weinberger has pleaded to the charges. Last year, Simon rejected a plea deal in which Weinberger would have served a four-year prison sentence. Weinberger is charged with 22 counts of insurance fraud alleging that he billed his malpractice carrier for surgeries that he didn’t perform totaling about $350,000.

Weinberger also faces more than 350 malpractice suits from former patients who claimed that Weinberger performed unnecessary or outmoded surgeries that might have worsened their conditions.

Separately, Weinberger’s malpractice carrier has sued him, claiming he was uncooperative and his actions void its duty to defend. Weinberger, in turn, sued the carrier, claiming bad faith. Still to be untangled in the federal courts is who will pay mounting judgments. The Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund, which pays malpractice judgments up to $1 million above the insurance cap of $250,000, also is involved in the Weinberger cases in federal court.

In April, U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich in the Lafayette Division of the Northern District of Indiana recommended a special master be appointed to deal with the pending cases, and a ruling is anticipated. The patient compensation fund says that without a special master, disposing of the cases could take five to 13 years if all went to trial.

– Dave Stafford

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AG: Parts of immigration law can’t stand - IL Rehearing "Indiana's immigraiton law reeling" July 6-19, 2012

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said July 31 that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down most of a tough Arizona law will impact a similar immigration law signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2011.

“Certain portions of the state law cannot stand,” Zoeller said in a statement announcing that provisions of SEA 590 allowing warrantless arrests cannot be defended.

Zoeller filed a brief to that effect in an ACLU case, Buquer v. Indianapolis, 1:11-CV-0708, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

“… the Attorney General recognizes the constitutional infirmities inherent in a warrantless arrest for a removal order, a notice of action, or the commission of an aggravated felony that would subject the arrestee to removal,” Zoeller wrote in the brief. “The Attorney General will submit the issue to the Court with the recommendation that a warrantless arrest under those circumstances is unconstitutional.”

The ACLU suit also challenged SEA 590’s criminalization of the use of consular-issued identification cards. Zoeller said an inference from Arizona, et al. v. United States, 11-182, that this portion of the law should be struck down was an improper reading of the SCOTUS decision.

“While the use of consular identification cards was not addressed in Arizona, (the state recognizes) the substantial questions about how far the Indiana legislature may go to criminalize purely private behavior … and how far the pre-emption doctrine can go toward defining what identification a State may recognize as valid for public and governmental purposes,” Zoeller wrote in the filing, leaving the question open for the court.

Zoeller also is defending the law in another case, Union Benefica Mexicana v. State, 2:11-CV-00482, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, which challenges two sections of the law: one that allows the Department of Workforce Development to file civil actions against employers for reimbursement of unemployment insurance if they knowingly employed illegal immigrants; and a second that prohibits someone from performing day labor without filing an attestation of employment authorization.

Zoeller said he will continue to defend that case in light of the Arizona ruling, but no brief has been filed in that matter because the case has been stayed.•

– Dave Stafford

Rehearings: Updates on issues previously reported in Indiana Lawyer. For copies of the original story, call our circulation department at 317-636-0200 with the title of the article and the issue date listed. Fee is $5 per story.
 

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