Show me the money! Resolving a settlement 7

It’s amazing how many things have happened since I last wrote about this apparently endless difficulty I’m having, trying to get my settlement check from Dinkes & Schwitzer.

I signed off on the settlement on November 3, 2011. But if you’ve been following this string of posts, you know that Dinkes didn’t send the demand for a check, and the necessary releases and other paperwork, to the defendant’s lawyers until July 20, 2012.

On Friday, September 7, right after I dropped into the mailbox an envelope to the Disciplinary Committee, catching them up, so to speak, on all this business, I got another letter from Dinkes, signed by William Hamel. This is what it said:

Please be advised that our office has been informed that the defendant insurance company will not issue the settlement draft for your lawsuit until such time as they receive a “Final Demand” amount letter from Medicare. To date, Medicare has only issued a conditional payment letter.

I suppose that many clients would read such a letter and think, “Well, OK, sounds confusing but plausible,” and further, “That damn government agency! It’s all their fault.”

Not this client. Because it isn’t plausible, it isn’t true and it is certainly not Medicare’s fault. Here’s why:

Last month I received a copy of an August 11, 2012 letter Medicare sent to Dinkes, advising them (warning them, really) that Medicare can’t send a final report on this case because Dinkes has failed to provide them with (1) the settlement amount; (2) the amount of attorney’s fees; and (3) an itemized listing of the case expenses.

Medicare, very kindly, calls this “lack of information.” I am less diplomatic. I call it incompetence and/or negligence.

Along with this Medicare letter came another one from Medicare, informing Dinkes that they do not have the “proper Proof of Representation on file.” I had warned Dinkes about their failure to provide Medicare with proof of representation in a certified letter to William Schwitzer, dated January 25, 2012. Here’s what I wrote:

Additionally, the Medicare “help person” [on the phone with me] informed me that you, my lawyers, have not yet filed an authorization or an executed retainer agreement with them. You need to do this.

But I shouldn’t have to tell you that.

No, I should not have had to tell them that. Any competent lawyer would know this. But I did tell them in January, yet as of August 11, 2012, Medicare had still not received Proof of Representation, i.e., a mutually acknowledged retainer agreement.

Why not? Because Dinkes never executed a mutually acknowledged retainer agreement with me. What I signed was a blank Blumberg form. When I asked Dinkes to email me the executed retainer agreement, I was pretty surprised to see that the law firm’s name wasn’t on the form, nor did any lawyer at the firm countersign it.

I wonder: have Dinkes & Schwitzer realized this and are they now thinking, “How are we going to close this case without telling the client [i.e., me] the truth?”

I remain astounded that a law firm like Dinkes & Schwitzer can advertise their business, sign up clients and practice their law in New York City, under the auspices of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

But I gotta run, because now I have to write yet another letter to the Disciplinary Committee, again apologizing for the lateness of yet another submission. Will this never end? A better question: can I come up with a way of getting my settlement check?

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