Friday, March 31, 2017

Audit Trails in Medical Records

Defendants and their attorneys often claim ignorance of the CFR requirements and provide a partial list of documents that avoid revealing the information you need. Look at 45 CFR 164.312, 164.316, 164.528, and 170.210(b) (stating that “[t]he date, time, patient identification, and user identification must be recorded when electronic health information is created, modified, accessed, or deleted; and an indication of which action(s) occurred and by whom must also be recorded.”).   You can get into a situation where the hospital either has the records or is not HIPPA compliant which is often a lot more expensive than the lawsuit. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Adoption Tax Credits

Taxpayers who have adopted or tried to adopt a child in 2016 may qualify for a tax credit. Here are ten important things about the adoption credit:

  1. The Credit. The credit is nonrefundable, which may reduce taxes owed to zero. If the credit exceeds the tax owed, there is no refund of the additional amount. In addition, if an employer helped pay for the adoption through a written qualified adoption assistance program, that amount may reduce any taxes owed.
  2. Maximum Benefit. The maximum adoption tax credit and exclusion for 2016 is $13,460 per child.
  3. Credit Carryover. If the credit exceeds the tax owed, taxpayers can carry any unused credit forward. For example, the unused credit in 2016 can reduce taxes for 2017. Use this method for up to five years or until the credit is fully used, whichever comes first.
  4. Eligible Child. An eligible child is an individual under age 18 or a person who is physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.
  5. Qualified Expenses. Adoption expenses must be reasonable, necessary and directly related to the adoption of the child. Types of expenses may include adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees and travel.
  6. Domestic or Foreign Adoptions. Taxpayers can usually claim the credit whether the adoption is domestic or foreign. However, there are different rules regarding the timing of expenses for each type of adoption.
  7. Special Needs Child. A special rule may apply if the adoption is of an eligible U.S. child with special needs. Under this special rule, taxpayers can claim the tax credit, even if qualified adoption expenses were not paid.
  8. No Double Benefit. In some instances both the tax credit and the exclusion may be claimed but not for the same expenses.
  9. Income Limits. The credit and exclusion are subject to income limitations. These may reduce or eliminate the claimable amount.
  10. IRS Free File. Use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file federal tax returns for free. File Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses, with Form 1040. Free File is only available on

Additional IRS Resources:

  • Tax Topic 607 – Adoption Credit and Adoption Assistance Programs

Monday, March 20, 2017


I had an interesting discussion last week with someone regarding discovery responses.  If you look at the Rules of Civil Procedure real close, interrogatories are the only thing that has to be sworn to.  The requests for production of documents and responses to admissions only have to be signed by the attorney.  It is an interesting distinction.  On the admissions, I think the better course is to have the client sign off on them normally because many of the facts the attorney will have no clue on. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Save the Date

I am working with NBI to put together a CLE in Olive Branch for July 26, 2017 on family law.  Save the date.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Failing to Respond to Admissions

The Mississippi Court of Appeals decided Brooks v. Landmark yesterday located here.  I had previously watched the oral arguments on this case and the appeals council who was not the trial attorney did an excellent job of trying to repair this case.  Brooks filed suit against the nursing home wherein her husband resided just before he died.  She claimed that  he died as a result of negligent care and understaffing at the facility.   The nursing home sent discovery which was not responded to including the admissions.  The nursing home then filed for summary judgment based on the admissions.    Based on the deemed admissions, the court granted summary judgment.  The Court of Appeals affirmed noting that  “Even after Landmark filed a motion for summary judgment based on her deemed admissions, Brooks waited another four months to file a motion to withdraw the admissions pursuant to Rule 36(b), and Brooks never actually responded to the requests.”  Cases like this are why my office has a general policy of getting admissions done the day they come in. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Punitive Damages

Below is a good summary of the current law on applying the punitive damages caps. 

“[P]roof of net worth is not required to award punitive damages. . . . [F]or a defendant to mitigate potential punitive damages, it is his responsibility to present proof of his net worth and financial condition.” Woodkrest Custom Homes Inc. v. Cooper, 108 So. 3d 460, 469 (¶¶41-42) (Miss. Ct. App. 2013) (citing C&C Trucking Co. v. Smith, 612 So. 2d 1092, 1102, 1105 (Miss. 1992)); accord Coleman & Coleman Enters., 106 So. 3d at 320 (¶33). Furthermore, the “evidence must be sufficient to enable the trial court to determine the defendant’s current net worth, according to generally accepted accounting principles.” In re Miss. Medicaid Pharm. Average Wholesale Price Litig. (“AWP Litig.”), 190 So. 3d 829, 846 (¶40) ( 2015) (opinion of Chandler, J., joined by Kitchens and King, JJ., affirming).

Here is one point I can take from the above.  From reading this, does this mean the Defendant must produce proof of their net worth in discovery or waive the issue?  The caselaw seems to say yes.  To me this looks like a landmine for Defendants potentially who keep opposing turning over this information in discovery or alternatively, produce nothing because no question requesting it was asked in discovery. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Free Legal Help

The Access to Justice Commission recently put out some information to individuals who cannot afford an attorney.  It is always best to hire an attorney, but sometimes it may be impossible.  Here is a brochure of some legal resources for those times.