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Jim Dintelman, Et. Al. v. Chicot County Memorial Hospital

March 31, 2011

JIM DINTELMAN, ET. AL. PLAINTIFFS
v.
CHICOT COUNTY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, ET. AL. DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James M. Moody United States District Judge

ORDER

Pending is the motion for summary judgment of Separate Defendants, Emergency Ambulance Services (sic), Inc., of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, d/b/a EASI and ATS and Ken Starnes, Owner. (Docket # 98). Plaintiffs have responded and Defendants have filed a reply. For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' motion is GRANTED.

Procedural History

By Order entered March 31, 2011, (docket # 159) the Court granted Separate Defendant

Chicot County Memorial Hospital's motion for summary judgment. The Court set forth the following procedural history of this case:

Plaintiffs Jim Dintelman, in his own right, and d/b/a Elite Medical Services, Inc.; David Donovan, in his own right and d/b/a Elite Medical Services, Inc.; Elite Medical Services, Inc.; and Elite Medical Services, Inc. d/b/a Dermott City EMS and Ashley County EMS filed this action against Chicot County Memorial Hospital ("CMH"); the governing board of Chicot County Memorial Hospital both individually, and in their respective official capacities; QHR, a Plano, Texas Corporation; Fred Zieman, both individually, and in his official capacity as County Judge of Chicot County, Arkansas; Liz McCoy, both individually, and in her official capacity as Acting County Judge of Chicot County, Arkansas; Chicot County Quorum Court; the individual members of the Chicot County Quorum Court, both individually and in their official capacities; City of Lake Village; Joan (sic) Bush, both individually, and in her capacity as Mayor of Lake Village, Arkansas; the City Council of Lake Village, Arkansas, both individually, and in their official capacities; Lori Bridewell, both individually and in her official capacity as City Attorney for City of Lake Village, Arkansas; Emergency Ambulance Services, Inc. of Pine Bluff, Arkansas d/b/a EASI and ATS and Ken Starnes, Owner.

Plaintiffs' complaint alleges causes of action for "violation of rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983, economic interference, intentional negligence, interference with interstate commerce, anti-trust violations and fraud." Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on July 27, 2007 adding EMS of Southeast Arkansas, Inc. as a Plaintiff. Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint on January 18, 2008.

Pending are motions for summary judgment filed by Defendant CMH (docket # 93); Emergency Ambulance Services, Inc. of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, d/b/a EASI and ATS and Ken Starnes, owner (docket # 98); Chicot County Quorum Court, the individual members of the Chicot County Quorum Court, Liz McCoy and Fred Zieman (docket # 106); and, City of Lake Village, Arkansas, Joanne Bush, Lake Village City Council Members and Laurie Bridewell (docket # 111). All defendants claim that summary judgment is proper at this time. . . .

The Court will address the motion of Emergency Ambulance Services of Arkansas, Inc. and Ken Starnes (hereinafter collectively "EASI") herein.

Facts

EASI adopted by reference the Statement of Undisputed Facts filed on behalf of Separate Defendant CMH. Accordingly, the following facts as set forth in the Court's Order entered March 31, 2011, (docket #159 ) are applicable herein.

CMH states that Plaintiffs' claims stem from the ambulance services contract that the City of Lake Village entered into with Emergency Ambulance Service of Arkansas, Inc. in December 2004. Plaintiffs deny that their case stems solely from the referenced ambulance services contract, and affirmatively state that their second amended complaint stems from:

a) a conspiracy in February, 2004, by the City, EASI and its owner, Kenneth Starnes, the City's Mayor, Joanne Bush, its City Attorney, Lorie Bridewell, CMH, and Chicot County Judge Mac Ball, Sr., to terminate a contract which plaintiff Elite Medical Services, Inc. ("Elite") had with the City and Chicot County, to provide ambulance services at CMH; b) the named defendants successful attempts in 2004/2005 to replace Elite with EASI in the CMH contract, under conditions which provide EASI an unprecedented monopoly of ambulance services at CMH; and defendants, in the course of pursuing the aforesaid conspiracy, breaching their authority and obligations as public officials, violating various business contracts which plaintiffs had with other medical facilities and patients, and violating various federal and state laws and regulations affecting monopolies, interstate commerce, kickbacks, illegal "steering" and the requirements for administration, use and/or handling of Medicare/Medicaid benefits, including violating the privacy, confidentiality, contractual and freedom of choice rights of the patients affected by such policies.

CMH does not bill or collect for ambulance services provided by third party providers such as the Plaintiffs or EASI. Prior to entering into the questioned ambulance services contract, the City of Lake Village sought bids from various ambulance service providers. Plaintiffs allege that these bids were sought after the City had breached a similar contract it had with Elite and the bid specifications were such that only EASI could satisfy the requirements. CMH had no involvement in the ambulance service bid process conducted by the City of Lake Village.

At the time the City of Lake Village sought bids for ambulance services, it had an "Ambulance Service Contract" with Elite Medical Services, Inc. ("Elite") and Jim Dintelman whereby Elite and Dintelman were to be the exclusive providers of ambulance services in the City of Lake Village. David Donovan and EMS of Southeast Arkansas, Inc. had an exclusive contract to provide ambulance services to the City of Dermott. None of the Plaintiffs submitted a bid to the City of Lake Village seeking to provide ambulance services to the City. After reviewing the bid specifications, Plaintiff Jim Dintelman and Elite decided not to submit a bid to the City of Lake Village because of economic concerns over the cost of providing dispatch services. Plaintiff David Donovan and his corporate entity, EMS of Southeast Arkansas, Inc. decided not to submit a bid because of concerns that it would not be financially feasible for them to provide the level of ambulance services being requested by the City of Lake Village. Additionally, Donovan claims that because of actions of Separate Defendant Laurie Bridewell, acting as private counsel to Donovan's wife in a divorce action, he was unable to disclose his financial statement, precluding his ability to bid on the contract. Plaintiffs also contend that they were unaware that the potential contract involved a "monopoly of transfers out of CMH" when they determined the financial feasibility of biding. However, the bid specifications noted the "exclusive" nature of the contract.

The City awarded its ambulance services contract to EASI after considering the responses received. Plaintiffs claim that this contract was not valid. CMH claims that it had no involvement in the decision to award the ambulance services contract to EASI. Plaintiffs state that "the conspiracy [began] by defendants in March 2004, to unlawfully terminate Elite's contract at the hospital culminating with the award of the contract to EASI in December 2004." CMH was not a party to the ambulance services contract entered into in December 2004 by and between the City of Lake ...


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