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U.S. Supreme Court won’t review ambulance company’s lawsuit against 12 O.C. cities, letting rulings rejecting it stand

U.S. Supreme Court won’t review ambulance company’s lawsuit against 12 O.C. cities, letting rulings rejecting it stand
The Huntington Beach Fire Department operates five ambulances 24 hours a day year-round, with more than 10,000 patients transported annually. (File Photo)

The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to review a petition by an ambulance company alleging that 12 Orange County cities used non-competitive business practices by having their own emergency medical services or contracting with only a few companies for such services.

The court updated its docket Monday, reflecting its decision involving Carson-based AmeriCare MedServices’ petition submitted Jan. 8.

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The decision lets stand a ruling from 2017 in which U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton sided with the cities, saying the state favored local oversight of ambulance services. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt dismissed the company’s appeal in 2018.

“The Supreme Court accepts very few cases for review,” said Aaron Gott, an attorney for AmeriCare. “It’s not in the business in correcting errors. We are, of course, disappointed.”

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AmeriCare 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 provide ambulance services or contract with a company of their choice.

The city of Huntington Beach says it operates five ambulances 24 hours a day year-round, with more than 10,000 patients transported annually.

“We were right on the law all along, defending our Fire Department’s great work to provide exceptional emergency services to our community,” said Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates.

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