Judge rejects suit against hospital, ambulance co.

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled in favor of Forrest General Hospital in a lawsuit over alleged collusion with an ambulance service.

The lawsuit was filed in April of 2012 by Wesley Medical Center.

The Hattiesburg American reports (http://hatne.ws/1mHAgRs) that the lawsuit alleged that AAA Ambulance — which is partly owned by Forrest General — conspired to steer patients toward Forrest General's emergency room instead of Wesley's.

U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett ruled in favor of Forrest General and the ambulance service on Wednesday, saying the ambulance service complied with state guidelines.

"Wesley conceded that it did not have valid claims against Forrest General for defamation and tortious interference with business relations as originally alleged," Forrest General's attorney William Reed said in a statement.

Reed noted the court ruled that Forrest General was not liable for conspiracy to restrain trade in violation of the anti-trust laws or conspiracy to kidnap patients in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

"The court has completely agreed that AAA strictly followed state guidelines when transporting patients," said Evan Dillard, president and CEO of Forrest Health. "The lawsuit never diverted us from our mission of providing world-class care to those we serve."

Wesley Medical Center officials declined to comment Friday.

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Information from: The Hattiesburg American, http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

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