Judge dismisses case after podiatrist attempts to collect large bill

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WAUKESHA COUNTY (WITI) -- A Milwaukee-area podiatrist temporarily lost his license to practice medicine in the state of Wisconsin on Tuesday, July 30th -- and on Wednesday, Dr. John Lanham was back in court, trying to force a former patient to pony up $10,000.

Tuesday marked Lanham's second suspension for deceptive billing practices. Claims from patients say Lanham misled patients into thinking their procedures would be covered by insurance — something FOX6 News caught him doing on hidden camera.

On Wednesday, he was in Waukesha County court, trying to collect on a huge patient bill.

Kathy Collelo is a waitress. In 2007, she went to Dr. Lanham for a pair of cortisone shots to relieve her aching feet.

Her bill totaled $5,700.

"That can't be right. Something is wrong," Collelo said.

Collelo objected, and Lanham sent her to collections. She filed a dispute, and then heard nothing for the next five years.

"One day the door bell rang and there was a policeman at the door with a summons," Collelo said.

In January, Lanham sued Collelo in small claims court.

"From the get go, I was always willing to pay the man.  Even though I didn`t really get much help, I thought, you know what?  I went there.  I picked the bum.  I`ll pay him," Collelo said.

However, Collelo refused to pay over $5,000.

"I just dug in my heels and thought, you know.  I`m not doin` it.  I`m not paying him.  I`ll fight it," Collelo said.

With interest, Lanham was suing for $10,000 -- the maximum allowed in small claims court. He wrote the judge that "it would be a crime" for Collelo to "get away" without paying.

"I think the crime is him, not me.  I'm not the criminal," Collelo said.

The day before the hearing, Collelo learned of Lanham's latest suspension, and used it to bolster her defense.

To Collelo's surprise, the judge dismissed the case on Wednesday -- meaning Collelo doesn't owe Lanham a dime.

"It feels really good.  Really good," Collelo said.

Much like he did six months ago, Lanham refused to speak with FOX6 News on Wednesday. But as he walked away, Collelo said she was thankful someone was looking over his shoulder.

"I think your reporting really helped.  It helped me, because it armed me with that knowledge.  And I think that made the difference in the case," Collelo told FOX6's Bryan Polcyn.

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