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Lawsuit finds ‘boys-gone-wild atmosphere’ in Calif. ambulance company

A second lawsuit in San Mateo County has led to additional allegations of sexual assault and a culture of drug and alcohol use


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By Austin Turner
Bay Area News Group

SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. — A lawsuit filed Thursday alleges San Mateo County’s contracted ambulance company has permitted a “boys-gone-wild atmosphere” that has led to multiple allegations of sexual assault, most recently involving a parademic accused of victimizing two elderly patients.

It is the second lawsuit the Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy law firm has filed against American Medical Response, a Colorado-based company also contracted to work in other Bay Area counties.

The suit filed Thursday is on behalf of an 81-year-old Pacifica woman who suffered a potential stroke and was in the back of an ambulance in May 2022 when a paramedic allegedly forced oral copulation on her, the suit says.

Attorneys with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy filed a similar suit in May against AMR alleging the same paramedic similarly sexually assaulted an 82-year-old Colma woman in December 2022 while she was strapped into a gurney and wore a neck brace.

“The facts of this case are horrific … the women who were assaulted were particularly vulnerable,” attorney Anne Marie Murphy said Friday. “There is every reason to believe that there may be more victims that have yet to come forward. The paramedic was allowed to remain on the job by AMR despite all the red flags and allegations.”

The latest lawsuit claims that the incident caused the 81-year-old victim to suffer “significant emotional distress.” She no longer lives independently and has a deep fear of ambulances, according to the suit.

Authorities have identified the paramedic as Miguel Ontiveros, 35, of Redwood City. San Mateo prosecutors in April charged him with two felony counts of forcible oral copulation.

“I’ve been doing this for four and a half decades and I have never seen a case like this before,” said Stephen Wagstaffe, San Mateo County District Attorney, according to the court filing. “There is no civilized person that could be capable of doing this.”

The lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that AMR management was not only aware of the May 2022 assault accusations when the December accusations took place, but also that Ontiveros was previously charged with felony grand theft for falsifying time cards while he was an employee of the South San Francisco Fire Department.

Attorneys claim AMR was “aware of other felony charges against Ontiveros, and knew or should have known that he was a sexual predator but they allowed him to remain in their employ and allowed Ontiveros to be alone in a back of an AMR ambulance with Jane Doe.”

The lawsuit describes AMR’s workplace environment as “high school with lights and sirens” and a “boys-gone-wild atmosphere” that includes a culture of drug and alcohol use.

Both lawsuits seek financial damages in an amount to be determined in court.

AMR could not be reached immediately for comment.

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