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Second mediation session ordered on SEOEMS suit

 

A mandated mediation session on a lawsuit between Athens, Jackson and Lawrence counties over a now defunct ambulance service ended with no resolution.

The session on May 25 was mandated by the Fourth District Court of Appeals following the filing of a lawsuit by Athens and Jackson counties against Lawrence.

“The court of appeals has ordered the three counties to mediate on Aug. 17, at 10 a.m. in Chillicothe,” Assistant Prosecutor Brigham Anderson said. “We were not very close.”

The decades-old Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Services was disbanded at the end of 2010 when Jackson and Athens counties pulled out leaving Lawrence County as the remaining member. That forced Lawrence County to start its own EMS.

A subsequent state audit of SEOEMS showed that the agency owed the county more than $300,000. The county commissioners tried various means to gain reimbursement with no success.

In March Athens and Jackson county commissioners filed a suit against Lawrence claiming that county owed a share of the SEOEMS dissolution costs. Lawrence County countered that the suit filed in the court of appeals was filed the wrong court and that Athens and Jackson do not have a valid claim. Lawrence wants the lawsuit dismissed and that was the issue that was to be the focus of the mandated mediation session.

In May Lawrence filed a suit against SEOEMS seeking the money it says is owed them.

Before the next session Anderson said the county will subpoena information from SEOEMS.

“Some additional information that the other counties weren’t aware of,” Anderson said. “Financial information from SEOEMS that none of the county entities have been able to get. There are a whole lot of issues that need to be addressed prior to getting into a true settlement. Each of the items needs to be addressed by the other counties, so the court of appeals will not rule on dismissing until after that.”

If the parties cannot reach a settlement, then the appellate court will step in, Anderson said.