Ambulance service files lawsuit alleging monopoly was created

Champion EMS is suing ETMC EMS, the city of Tyler and Smith County and claims that government officials helped the agency create a healthcare monopoly

By EMS1 Staff

TYLER, Texas — An ambulance service filed a lawsuit against an EMS agency and local government officials, claiming they created an illegal monopoly.

Tyler Morning Telegraph reported that Champion EMS is suing ETMC EMS, the city of Tyler and Smith County and claims they are violating the Texas Free Enterprise and Antitrust Act by excluding them from providing services in the area.

“In Texas, every contract, combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce is unlawful,” the suit said. “It is further unlawful to monopolize, attempt to monopolize or conspire to monopolize any part of trade or commerce.”

The lawsuit is a counterclaim to ETMC EMS’s 2017 lawsuit against Champion EMS, which claimed the ambulance service was infringing on a contract  between ETMC EMS and local officials that gave them exclusive ambulance service rights.

An EMTC spokesperson said Champion EMS has continuously violated “several different local statutes” and that EMTC would “vigorously pursue our rights and remedies under our contracts with both the city and the county.”

According to court documents, ETMC EMS’s relationship with the city and county started in 1992 when they signed a five-year contract that could be extended in one-year increments if the agency met certain standards.

Champion EMS claims the contract extension process has prevented a “competitive bid process.”

“The agency has provided (ETMC EMS) with a monopoly on ambulance services and has failed to conduct, or even allow, a competitive bid process for such services in over two and a half decades,” Champion EMS said in the suit. “With the indisputable rise of healthcare costs in the past couple of decades, no reasonable person could deny the benefits of competition for such services.”

Champion EMS’s lawsuit also claims that ETMC EMS is suing the ambulance service to prevent them from transporting patients between its own facilities.

“ETMC EMS’s actions in seeking to prevent the transport of patients … is outside its rights under the unlawful ambulance contract,” the lawsuit says. “And its actions are indicative of a company desperate to maintain a monopoly, whether justified or not.”

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