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Mercy Flights, Inc. v. County of Josephine

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division

March 14, 2019

MERCY FLIGHTS, INC., an Oregon nonprofit corporation, Plaintiff,
COUNTY OF JOSEPHINE, an Oregon political subdivision, AMERICAN MEDICAL RESPONSE NORTHWEST, INC., a Colorado corporation, Defendants.


          CLARKE, Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Mercy Flights, Inc., brings this cause of action against the defendants, Josephine County, Oregon, and American Medical Response, Northwest, Inc., ("AMR") seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The case comes before the Court on cross motions for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff (#23), Defendant Josephine County (#26), and Defendant AMR (#29). For the reasons below, the Plaintiffs motion (#23) is GRANTED, and the defendants' motions (#26, 29) are DENIED. Plaintiff is entitled to declaratory and injunctive relief, and judgment shall be entered for the Plaintiff.


         Summary judgment shall be granted when the record shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material of fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S 242, 247 (1986). The moving party has the initial burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, Ml U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc). The court cannot weigh the evidence or determine the truth but may only determine whether there is a genuine issue of fact. Playboy Enters., Inc. v. Welles, 279 F.3d 796, 800 (9th Cir. 2002). An issue of fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.


         For purposes of this motion, the defendants do not dispute the material facts as stated by Plaintiff Mercy Flights. Mercy Flights is an Oregon nonprofit corporation which provides prehospital emergency air medical transportation services in Oregon, California, Idaho and Washington. Mercy Flights holds a 14 CFR Part 135 Air Carrier and Operator certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration and is an airline as defined in the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA).

         After the 911 system is activated in Josephine County for a person who has an injury or illness and who is transported to Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass (TRMC), the emergency department or attending physician makes a medical diagnosis of that patient's condition. (Decl. Doug Stewart (Plf. Ex. 1)). When a patient is deemed critical, or when they have a medical condition that exceeds the resources available to TRMC, the patient requires a critical care transport service to a facility that has that service available. (Plf. Ex. 1). TRMC physician support staff determine the geographically closest hospital that can provide the service the patient's condition requires. Id.

         When a patient requires critical care transport by air out of Southern Oregon, Mercy Flights is contacted. When the call is received, the Mercy Flights' communication center collects information on the patient and immediately activates the Mercy Flights' critical care flight transport team. The critical care flight transport team consists of a Registered Nurse and Paramedic. The critical care flight transport team provides a level of care during transport that is comparable with the level of care the patient receives in the Emergency Department or the Intensive Care Unit at TRMC. Id.

         When the critical care flight transport team arrives at TRMC the Registered Nurse member of the team receives a patient condition report and begins the assessment of the patient. After consultation with the treating physician, a treatment plan is agreed upon and the patient is prepared for transport. Once the patient is ready, they are transported on the Mercy Flights ground ambulance to the Medford Airport where the patient and the critical care flight transport team are then transferred to a Mercy Flights Aircraft for flight to the appropriate facility. This process is streamlined, and the preparation of the patient takes a minimal amount of time. The critical care flight transport team is assigned to, and remains with, the patient throughout the duration of the transport - from hospital bed to hospital bed. The critical care Paramedic and Registered Nurse work together to provide an advanced level of care from the time that the patient is collected at TRMC to the time the patient is delivered to the receiving facility. Id.

         In 2013, Josephine County passed Ordinance No. 2013-007, which regulates ambulance services in Josephine County. The Ordinance reads in relevant part:

No person shall provide ambulance service in Josephine County unless the BCC has issued a license and assigned an ASA to that person pursuant to this section.

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