Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Los Angeles doctor runs down pedestrian, then gets him arrested

Author Steve Bevilacqua

Doctor causes harm, then lies about it to escape blame. Haven't I heard this before?

"...road rage lunatic who happened to be a doctor...The driver also pulled the gender card and claimed that her actions were justified because she was "very afraid" of me, despite the fact that she was in a car and I was on my ass in the street."

Book: A Layman's Handbook for Those Falsely Accused of Felonies
Man Run Over By Doctor Faced Lengthy Prison Sentence & Was Then Redeemed On National TV By Judge Judy
Ryan McCormick
Nov 19, 2013

One day Steve Bevilacqua was hit by a car crossing the street and almost went to prison for it. The driver who ran him down was charged with nothing, and Steve spent months in court fighting mandatory prison sentences for imaginary crimes. His book "KAFKA AT THE BEACH: A Layman's Handbook for Those Falsely Accused of Felonies" offers a firsthand account of being on the wrong end of America's justice system.

In KAFKA AT THE BEACH Steve Bevilacqua reveals:

How & why he was facing an 18-month mandatory prison sentence for assault, battery, and strong-armed robbery against the woman who ran him over with her car - crimes he did not commit.

How after he was run over, the driver cursed him, got out of her car, and then attempted to physically assault him.

A corrupt LAPD detective adds more false charges to Steve's existing ones.

In court, Steve meet the alcoholic city attorney who, chomping on pretzels and nursing a hangover, keeps confusing his case with others and becomes hellbent on sending Steve to prison for two years.

Redemption: TV's Judge Judy ruled in Steve's favor as he was suing the driver for cost incurred of her making deliberate false statements.

Santa Monica courthouse

"In the bizarre totalitarian odyssey that devoured a year of my life. I fought off a ferocious campaign to put me in prison, experienced the joys of bankruptcy, and struggled through an absurd maze of court-ordered therapy. However, I ultimately triumphed, achieving vindication on national television at the hands of the snarling modern-day Solomon known as Judge Judy." Steve Bevilacqua

Lights, Camera, Justice: If Only the Los Angeles Court System Were More Like Judge Judy
Steve Bevilacqua
Huff Post

I was run down by a car while crossing the street, and almost went to prison for it, thanks to our local court system. Granted, what happened to me was an extreme incident, propelled by a road rage lunatic who happened to be a doctor yet should never have been listened to by anyone. The driver also pulled the gender card and claimed that her actions were justified because she was "very afraid" of me, despite the fact that she was in a car and I was on my ass in the street. But what transpired for the next 8 months in our city's court system was a totalitarian nightmare straight out of Kafka's The Trial.

Hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars, and one surreal stint in court-ordered therapy later, I was ravaged but free. Then this legal deathmarch was to play itself out again, on television. Amazingly enough, in one extremely loud afternoon, my fiasco was set right by the modern-day Solomon known as Judge Judy. The actual court system spent months squeezing every technicality in their agonized efforts to send me to prison at the expense of the obvious truth. Judge Judy was direct and ferociously sensible...

During my months in court, I endured City Attorneys defending a driver's right to run down a pedestrian with her car, while refusing to charge her with anything. The driver even admitted giving the finger to the downed pedestrian as she fled the scene, yet she didn't even receive a traffic ticket...

I have yet to see an argument based on some pigshit technicality succeed on Judge Judy while, in real courts, it seems to happen as often as not...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Kaiser Settles Dialysis Patient Transport Payment Squabble

After years of scandals, it's becoming pretty clear that Kaiser Permanente prefers dead kidney patients to live ones.

Kaiser Settles Transport Payment Squabble
Courthouse News Service
December 06, 2013

(CN) - A stipulation agreement has led to the dismissal of claims that Kaiser Foundation Health Plan failed to pay a company that transported patients to dialysis.

ProTransport-1 LLC, which claimed to transport Kaiser patients with end stage renal disease, had filed the lawsuit under the False Claims Act in 2012.

It said that Kaiser takes hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. government to care for seniors and patients with special needs, but that it pockets the money and has contractors like ProTransport bill the California Medical Assistance Program, known as Medi-Cal, for services rendered. Claiming that the Medicare Act allegedly requires Kaiser to pay the company in the first instance, ProTransport said the insurer's conduct amounted to fraud.

The complaint spared no words in blasting Kaiser as an "unscrupulous" entity whose "greed" compels it to steal from and defraud the government.

This past August, U.S. District Judge William Orrick refused to let ProTransport advance claims that the alleged billing was part of Kaiser's plan to kill its patients.

The complaint had stated: "Of course, Kaiser knows very well that without dialysis, these patients will die within weeks. That is part of Kaiser's plan. Dialysis is expensive, so is transporting patients to and from dialysis. By killing off these patients, Kaiser is left with a much more profitable patient base, resulting in billions in profits."

But Orrick had no patience for the "scandalous" allegation.

"References to Kaiser welcoming deaths, causing deaths or profiting from deaths - unsubstantiated by factual allegations - are immaterial and scandalous and should be stricken," he wrote.

[Maura Larkins' comment: In fact, Kaiser treatment guidelines include delaying diagnostic tests and ignoring test results. Kaiser seems to have a particular antipathy toward helping patients with kidney issues. At one point, Kaiser actually kept many of them off eligibility lists for transplants. These policies have resulted in quick deaths rather than long years of care, producing a huge amount of profit for Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser is interested in finding cheap treatments for common diseases, but it carefully picks and chooses when it comes to treating patients who have expensive problems.]

ProTransport eventually dropped seven of its 10 claims.

The parties agreed to mediation in late August and ProTransport's attorney, George Azadian, of The Matthews Law Group in San Marino, Calif., revealed this week that they entered a stipulation agreement to dismiss the case.

Azadian stressed stipulation agreements are generally confidential and that he could not reveal the conditions of ProTransport's agreement with Kaiser.

Attorneys for Kaiser did not return a request for comment.

Orrick dismissed the case Tuesday.

See court order from August 2013 in this case.

Kaiser Contractor Can't Allege Schadenfreude
Courthouse News Service
September 03, 2013

(CN) - A federal judge sidelined "scandalous" allegations that Kaiser welcomes the death of its patients, but left room for amended claims under the False Claims Act.

In a 2012 complaint, ProTransport-1 LLC claimed that Kaiser Foundation Health Plan failed to pay for its services transporting patients with end stage renal disease to dialysis treatment.

The Oakland-based Kaiser allegedly required ProTransport to seek reimbursement from the California Medical Assistance Program, Medi-Cal.

ProTansport said it complained about the conduct and that Kaiser then retaliated by refusing to pay for any transports made by ProTransport and excluding ProTransport from bidding to provide future services to Kaiser.

Since the Medicare Act allegedly requires Kaiser to pay ProTransport in the first instance, the insurer's conduct amounts to fraud, according to the complaint.

Kaiser moved to dismiss the complaint and to strike references that it called "immaterial and improper," leading ProTransport to voluntarily dismiss seven claims. It wanted to preserve only its claims under the federal False Claims Act and California laws against retaliation and unfair competition.

ProTransport drew the court's ire with its claims that Kaiser welcomed, caused and profited from patients' death.

In its complaint, ProTransport said: "Of course, Kaiser knows very well that without dialysis these patients will die within weeks. That is part of Kaiser's plan. Dialysis is expensive, so is transporting patients to and from dialysis. By killing off these patients, Kaiser is left with a much more profitable patient base, resulting in billions in profits."

U.S. District Judge William Orrick on Wednesday called the allegations "immaterial and scandalous."

"References to Kaiser welcoming deaths, causing deaths or profiting from deaths - unsubstantiated by factual allegations - are immaterial and scandalous and should be stricken," the ruling states.

Though Kaiser claimed that the False Claims Act claim was just a disguised attempt by ProTransport to obtain payment for its services, ProTransport insisted that it is trying to secure recovery for the United States.

Orrick agreed that "payments to ProTransport for services provided in the past are not at issue. Nor are payments that might be made in the future, as ProTransport was allegedly barred by Kaiser from bidding to provide future services."

He nevertheless dismissed the claim as inadequately pleaded.

"While the complaint cites to various statutes and regulations to argue that Kaiser's Medical Advantage plan is required to provide the same level of coverage required under Medicare and that medically necessary transports are covered by Medicare, the complaint does not identify which law, rule or regulation Kaiser undertook to comply with that 'is implicated in submitting a claim for payment,'" the 18-page ruling states. "Moreover, the complaint does not identify what 'claims' Kaiser submitted that were 'impliedly' false."

In dismissing a claim for retaliation under the California Health and Safety Code, Orrick noted that the law does not cover "a non-contracted transportation service provider."

ProTransport can allege retaliation unfairness under the unfair competition law, but it cannot claim a violation under the illegal prong of that law, according to the ruling.

Orrick reasoned that this claim is barred because it stems from the nixed allegations under the False Claims Act and Health and Safety Code.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hospital Lab Tech Gets 39 Years for Infecting Patients With Hepatitis

NH Hospital Worker Gets 39 Years in Hepatitis Case
Associated Press
December 2, 2013 (AP)

A traveling medical technician who stole painkillers and infected dozens of patients in multiple states with hepatitis C through tainted syringes was sentenced Monday to 39 years in prison.

"I don't blame the families for hating me," David Kwiatkowski said after hearing about 20 statements from people he infected and their relatives. "I hate myself."

Kwiatkowski, 34, was a cardiac technologist in 18 hospitals in seven states before being hired at New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital in 2011. He had moved from job to job despite being fired at least four times over allegations of drug use and theft. Since his arrest last year, 46 people have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries.

U.S. Attorney John Kacavas said the sentence "ensures that this serial infector no longer is in a position to do harm to innocent and vulnerable people."

Kwiatkowski admitted stealing painkillers and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his blood. He pleaded guilty in August to 16 federal drug charges.

Before he was sentenced, Kwiatkowski stood and faced his victims, saying he was very sorry and that his crimes were caused by an addiction to painkillers and alcohol. He told investigators he had been stealing drugs since at least 2003 and swapping syringes since at least 2008.

"There's no excuse for what I've done," he said. "I know the pain and suffering I have caused."

Prosecutors asked for a 40-year sentence. Judge Joseph Laplante said he cut the last year as a reminder that some people have the capacity for mercy and compassion.

"It's important for you to recognize and remember as you spend the next 39 years in prison to focus on the one year you didn't get and try to develop that capacity in yourself," Laplante said.

The victims spoke angrily and tearfully of the pain that Kwiatkowski had inflicted by giving them hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that can cause liver disease and chronic health problems. Authorities say the disease played a role in one woman's death.

"You may only be facing drug charges, but make no mistake, you are a serial killer," said Kathleen Murray of Elmira, N.Y., whose mother was infected in Baltimore and was too ill to travel to New Hampshire for the sentencing.

Linda Ficken, 71, said she is haunted by the memory of Kwiatkowski standing at her hospital bedside in Kansas for more than an hour applying pressure to the catheter's entry site in her leg to control bleeding.

"On one hand, you were saving my life, and on the other hand, your acts are a death sentence for me," Ficken, of Andover, Kan., told him. "Do I thank you for what you did to help me? Do I despise you for what your actions did and will continue to do for the rest of my life? Or do I simply just feel sorry for you being the pathetic individual you are?"

Prosecutors said Kwiatkowski deserved 40 years for creating a "national public health crisis," putting a significant number of people at risk and caused substantial physical and emotional harm to a large number of victims.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Farley called Kwiatkowski's actions "exceedingly callous" and "unbelievably cruel" and noted that Kwiatkowski could've stolen painkillers without exposing his patients to hepatitis C.

Defense lawyers argued that a 30-year sentence would better balance the seriousness of the crimes against Kwiatkowski's mental and emotional problems and his addiction to drugs and alcohol, which they said clouded his judgment.

Hospital Lab Tech Gets 39 Years for Infecting Patients With Hepatitis
Dec. 2, 2013
ABC News

A New Hampshire hospital lab technician who pleaded guilty in August to infecting at least 46 people with hepatitis C was sentenced today to 39 years in prison.

David Kwiatkowski, 34, a former lab technician at Exeter Hospital, admitted to stealing syringes of the anesthetic fentanyl intended for patients, injecting his own arm and then refilling those empty syringes with saline, according to the United States Attorney's Office in New Hampshire.

Read about Kwiatkowski's indictment.

Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty in August exchange for a lighter prison sentence, according to the plea agreement obtained by

Kwiatkowski tested positive for hepatitis C in June 2010, and passed the infection on to the hospital patients who were injected with his used, saline-filled syringes, according to the plea agreement. At least one patient he treated died in Kansas, and a coroner determined hepatitis C played a role in that death.

According to the plea agreement, Kwiatkowski had been fired or forced to quit for stealing and replacing syringes at least as far back 2008, but he would simply move on to the next hospital.

For example, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center fired Kwiatkowski in May 2008 after an employee saw him take a fentanyl syringe from the operating room, and he was later found with three empty syringes on his person, according to the plea agreement.

Less than two weeks after that, Kwiatkowski got a job at the VA Medical Center in Baltimore. A patient who received care from him on May 27, 2008, at the Baltimore hospital later tested positive for the same strain of hepatitis C that Kwiatkowski has.

"If he knew that he was infected and he put those needles back on the shelf, that is the definition of evil," Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' chief health and medical editor, told "Good Morning America" last summer. "Anyone who was in those hospitals when he was working there is potentially at risk. We're talking tens of thousands of people."

Hepatitis C is a liver disease that can last a few weeks or for the rest of a patient's life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus is spread through blood, and there is no vaccine. Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain and jaundice.

Read about the thousands of patients who needed to be tested for hepatitis C.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Kaiser, which has long claimed to practice preventive medicine, to raise rates 9.2 per cent, on reinstated policies

Apparently, Kaiser Permanente wasn't so interested in preventive medicine as it claimed. When required to provide preventive care, it raises rates.

Kaiser to raise rates on reinstated policies
The proposed 9.2% boost would cover higher costs associated with Obamacare
By Kristen Consillio
Star Advertizer
Nov 30, 2013

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii plans to boost rates by an average 9.2 percent for 11,000 individuals who were earlier notified their health insurance policies would be canceled at year's end because they did not meet the minimum requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act.

The state's largest health maintenance organization said it filed the proposed rate hike this week with the Insurance Division to cover higher projected medical expenses next year, costs associated with an aging population and taxes and fees related to the federal Affordable Care Act...