Judge dismisses ambulance company appeal over EMS monopolies
AmeriCare MedServices accused 12 cities of conspiring to monopolize the EMS market and shut them out from contracts
By Priscella Vega
ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — A federal judge this week dismissed an appeal by an ambulance company alleging that 12 Orange County cities used noncompetitive business practices by having their own emergency medical services or contracting with only a few companies for such services.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt upheld a ruling from 2017 in which Judge Josephine Staton sided with the cities, saying the state favored local oversight of ambulance services.
“California law specifically authorized cities to ‘maintain control of the [emergency medical] services they operated or contracted for’ … and make decisions as to the appropriate manner of providing those services,” Hoyt wrote in a memo.
Carson-based AmeriCare MedServices filed suit in 2016 against Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Anaheim, Orange, La Habra, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Buena Park and San Clemente. The company accused the cities of conspiring to monopolize the market and shut out AmeriCare from contracts.
Attorneys for the cities argued that state law permits municipalities to either provide ambulance services or contract with a company of their choice.
Aaron Gott, an attorney for AmeriCare, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Huntington Beach operates five ambulances 24 hours a day year-round, according to its website. The ambulances transport 10,000 patients annually.
“In a large city like Huntington Beach, we provide a ton of medical services, and to have our well-trained Fire Department rendering those services instead of a third party is good for citizens, the city and the Fire Department,” said City Attorney Michael Gates.
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