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Keker & Van Nest Wins Jury Verdict for Paramedics Plus

San Francisco Business Times

A legal squabble between two emergency transport services firms over a county 911 contract ended in victory in Alameda Superior Court last Friday for contract holder Paramedics Plus, its attorneys say.

Paramedics Plus, which won a competitive bidding process in mid-2010 to provide emergency 911 transport services in Alameda County only to get slapped with a lawsuit by former contract holder American Medical Response, won a jury verdict last week and secured its rights to the current contract.

AMR lost the Alameda County gig to Paramedics Plus three years ago, but accused its rival of violating the state's predatory pricing law, according to Keker & Van Nest, Paramedics' San Francisco-based law firm.

The jury verdict, announced June 19, was 12-0 in favor of Paramedics Plus, Keker & Nest said, which resulted in the lawsuit's dismissal.

Ron Cunningham, an AMR spokesman, confirmed the basic facts of the case, but said the company had no comment on whether it plans to appeal the verdict. "We consider this to be ongoing litigation," he told the San Francisco Business Times on June 28, "and we typically do not comment on ongoing litigation."

Christa Anderson, the Keker & Van Nest partner who served as lead counsel for Paramedics Plus, said the case was unusual in that AMR allegedly used California's predatory pricing law "for the opposite of its intent, which is to preserve healthy competition by protecting smaller companies from larger rivals."

AMR has nearly 16,500 employees, compared to about 1,900 for Paramedics Plus, its lawyers said in a June 26 statement to the San Francisco Business Times.

Paramedics Plus, based in Tyler, Texas, is a subsidiary of the East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System. It operates 239 ambulances and has contracts in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Pinellas County, Fla., and Fort Wayne, Ind., according to a June 25 statement by the company.

"It's unfortunate that AMR chose to pursue their groundless claims in court resulting in wasted time and resources for all involved," Paramedics Plus President Ron Schwartz said in a statement.

AMR, based in Greenwood Village, Colo., provides emergency medical transport service in San Francisco and elsewhere in the region, where it employs about 80 paramedics and EMTs, and handles approximately 16,800 transports annually.

It's pretty clear why Alameda County went with Paramedics Plus, according to an Oct. 26, 2011 article in the East Bay Express. It said Paramedics Plus projected its annual charges to the county would be about $160 million, compared to projected costs of more than twice that much –-- $333 million – by AMR.

AMR naturally disputed those numbers, the Express reported at the time, calling Paramedics' estimates "bogus."