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|Court decision paves way for sole ambulance provider|
The Louisiana Supreme Court denied an appeal filed by nine rural ambulance providers in a lawsuit against an ordinance establishing a sole ambulance provider in Ouachita Parish.
In May 2007, the Ouachita Council of Governments selected American Medical Response to serve as Ouachita Parish's sole ambulance provider.
The contract with the parish and AMR has not been finalized since the nine rural ambulance providers filed a lawsuit in 4th Judicial District Court to stop the contract from becoming effective.
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.
The 4th District Court and the Second Circuit Court of Appeal both ruled in favor of OCOG.
The plaintiffs asked the Louisiana Supreme Court for a writ over the summer. The Supreme Court recently denied that appeal.
"As of last week, Louisiana Supreme Court denied the writ application of the ambulance services that had filed suit to stop implementation of the ambulance ordinance," said Jay Mitchell.
Mitchell is an assistant district attorney. He serves as in-house counsel for the Ouachita Parish Police Jury and for Ouachita Council of Governments.
"That (Supreme Court action) should represent the end of the litigation, particularly any issues with the two cities and the parish going forward with the sole provider license," Mitchell said.
He said the sole ambulance provider contract will be presented to the cities of Monroe and West Monroe and Ouachita Parish Police Jury for approval.
"We're moving forward finally and we're ready to get it wrapped up," Mitchell added.
The process to select a sole ambulance provider for Ouachita Parish has taken roughly two years to complete. Litigation has stalled the process for more than a year. The lawsuit was filed against OCOG in May 2007.
Part of the intent in selecting a sole ambulance provider was to improve response times within the parish.