Pro Bono Barrister: Kings Inn panel to bring ‘good’ and ‘bad’ news to lien conflicts

April 29, 2014 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Query: Why is the next CLE-accredited session of the Kings County American Inn of Court titled “Lien on Us: The Good News and the Bad News?”

Good question. Every attorney who has settled, or won a verdict in, a case wherein health providers claim they are deserving of a certain portion of the proceeds knows the pitfalls inherent when resolving knotty liens, which can present surprising and unpleasant complications.

Even the most experienced trial lawyer knows that shudder of discomfort that takes control when he or she receives a “lien letter” long after the case has been “paid out.”

So, when group leaders Justice Barry Kamins and Paul Weitz lead their panel in an in-depth discussion of the “Good News” and “Bad News” of developments in various lien regulations and statutes on Tuesday, April 29, they will enjoy the rapt attention of Inn members, especially those who have experienced firsthand the special challenges that arise when the “Bad News” arrives.

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The session takes place at 6 p.m. at BBA Headquarters, 123 Remsen St.

The leaders and their team will review a number of rules and precedent-setting cases that have helped to clarify the lien enigma, especially cases in which federal law is invoked to protect those who are faced with substantial medical bills.

One such case, which arose in New York State before being elevated to the United States District Court, is Wurtz v. The Rawlings Company. Rawlings was the subrogee of Oxford Health, the provider for two plaintiffs in separate personal injury cases. Both were sued in state court to recover monies advanced to defendants Meghan Wurtz and Mindy Burnovski.

These defendants moved in federal court to dismiss Rawlings’ claims, arguing, in part, that these claims “are completely preempted pursuant to Section 502 of ERISA.” The outcome of this and another major case, Arkansas Dept. of Health and Human Services v. Heidi Ahlborn, will be reviewed by the distinguished Inn panel on Tuesday.

Who are the “good guys” in this situation? Did the “good guys” win? Inn members will learn the answers to these questions and more on April 29 and we’ll report back in “Pro Bono” soon thereafter.

Meanwhile, Inn Administrator Lucy DiSalvo advises that a complimentary buffet will be available, starting at 5:30 p.m., arranged by Inn Executive Director Jeff Feldman.

Justice Ellen Spodek serves as Inn president. Other Inn officers are President-elect Dave Chidekel, Counselor Justice Arthur Schack, Treasurer Justice Miriam Cyrulnik and Secretary Jon Besunder. The Inn was founded 13 years ago by Justice Marsha Steinhardt, retired Justices Gerard Rosenberg and Abraham Gerges, and former Justice Edward Rappaport, the Inn’s president emeritus.

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