MVR sues Highgate

Ambulance service alleges breach of contract, open meeting violations

By Elaine Ezerins

Staff Writer

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HIGHGATE — Missisquoi Valley Rescue (MVR) has filed suit against the Town of Highgate, alleging Highgate, breached their 2015-2016 contract with MVR, breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violated both the Public Records Act and the Open Meetings Law.

MVR is seeking damages, relief, attorney’s fees and more.

According to the complaint, MVR, a non-profit ambulance service based in Swanton, provided emergency services to Highgate for 29 years. Under the last contract, the town agreed to pay MVR $126,000 for ambulance services from July 2015 to June 2016.

In its complaint, the plaintiff states in November of 2015, the town and MVR began discussing the 2016-2017 ambulance services contract, at which time MVR provided the Highgate selectboard with a proposal concerning services and costs, including MVR’s operating budget and budget justification.

According to MVR, the selectboard did not put the 2016-2017 ambulance services contract out to bid or make a request for proposals. “Instead of pursuing a fair competitive process, the town selectboard shared MVR’s proposal with another ambulance service provider, AmCare, without informing MVR,” states MVR’s complaint.

MVR argues AmCare used this information to offer services to Highgate at a lower cost.

The complaint also states the selectboard deliberated in secret by email and concluded it would award AmCare the contract, in violation of Open Meetings Law.

The plaintiff argues the board went one step further and told AmCare it would be awarded the contract for 2016-2017.

According to MVR, the Highgate selectboard warned a meeting for April 6, 2016 with an ambulatory service provider update on the agenda. At the meeting, the board conducted an unwarned vote on the ambulance services contract, awarding it to AmCare, according to the complaint. The plaintiff argues the vote was predetermined based on email deliberations between board members prior to the meeting.

For full details on the suit, pick up a copy of Wednesday’s Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.