Iowa Paid $3.7M to Resolve Disputes in FY 2011

August 16, 2011

Iowa paid nearly $3.8 million to settle claims and resolve disputes in fiscal year 2011, down significantly from the previous year, state officials said.

Officials said a large share of that amount was paid out in medical negligence cases at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City – about $2.46 million. A large share also was paid out in pre-litigation settlements from the state’s troubled film tax credit program, about $884,000, The Gazette reported.

Joseph Barry, the state’s risk manager in the Department of Management, said the total payments for fiscal year 2011 were down from $6.85 million in 2010. He credited the decline to a more streamlined process developed by the attorney general’s office that provides more scrutiny and requires more documentation from people who make claims against the state.

State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald added that “just good fortune” also probably was at play.

“I think it’s the natural ebb and flow,” said Fitzgerald, a member of the State Appeals Board, which approves the settlements.

The largest single claim in fiscal year 2011 was $1.275 million paid to settle a lawsuit against University Hospitals alleging negligence in a woman’s death, state records show. Hospital physicians contributed about 15 percent, or $225,000, to the overall settlement.

Another $1.5 million settlement involved allegations of medical negligence in treatment received by a woman at the UI hospital. Twenty-five percent was paid by the state. The remaining $1.125 million was paid by hospital physicians.

Also, $180,000 was paid last fiscal year to settle a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination in employment brought against the state and the former head of the state’s Office of Energy Independence. Another $75,000 was paid to settle an age-discrimination claim brought against the state. Other claims involved motor vehicle accidents and other mishaps or alleged negligent action.

The appeals board approved a settlement of $450,000 to Midsummer Films, which registered six projects under the state’s now-defunct film tax credit program. It also approved more than $434,000 to After Dark Films to resolve disputes regarding tax credits.

David Roederer, Department of Management director and an Appeals Board member, said he expected additional film-tax credit settlements to come before the board that might temporarily skew the yearly figures similar to fiscal year 2008, when TouchPlay settlements made up a major share of the record $23.5 million in judgments the state paid in that year.

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