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|Ambulance contract remains on hold|
While the Ouachita Council of Governments received a draft contract Monday, setting up American Medical Response as the parish's sole emergency ambulance provider, the deal won't be signed until May or possibly later.
In May 2007, OGOG selected AMR to serve as Ouachita Parish's sole ambulance provider. A contract has not been finalized since nine rural ambulance providers filed a lawsuit in 4th Judicial District Court against OCOG. The ambulance companies claimed OCOG's ambulance ordinance infringed upon their "free speech and lawful commerce as it seeks to limit the ability to advertise for services."
The nine rural ambulance services in the surrounding parishes also took issue with a provision in the OCOG ambulance ordinance, which says all trips that originate in Ouachita Parish must be conducted by the sole ambulance provider.
A 4th District Court ruling favored of OCOG, but the attorney for the rural ambulance companies filed an appeal.
OCOG attorney Jay Mitchell anticipates the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal will hear arguments in the case at the end of April.
"Hopefully, we'll have a decision sometime in May," Mitchell told OCOG Monday during its regular meeting.
OCOG agreed to hold off signing its contract with AMR until the 4th District Court ruled on the lawsuit filed by the rural ambulance companies. Mitchell, though, says OCOG will wait until after the appeals process is completed before approving the contract.
Mitchell said if the appeals process leads both parties to the Louisiana Supreme Court, OCOG could have a long wait if it delays signing the contract.
"They have a backlog of writs, so we may not know something until after Labor Day," Mitchell said.
By having a draft contract ready, both OCOG and AMR can sign it immediately following the conclusion of any litigation, Mitchell said.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit against OCOG are MedLife Emergency Medical Services; Advanced Emergency Medical Services; Claiborne Ambulance Service; D'Arbonne Ambulance Service; East Carroll Ambulance; Jackson Parish Ambulance Service, Northeast Louisiana Ambulance Service; Pafford Emergency Medical Services; and West Carroll Parish Ambulance Service.