A feud between two companies that provide emergency vehicles for cities near Houston escalated to dangerous levels, one side claims in an explosive lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The plaintiff, Republic EMS, is suing City Ambulance for damages exceeding $200,000, according to Harris County, Texas, court records. In Republic’s initial filing, the company alleges that City Ambulance and its president, Mohammad Massoud, vandalized Republic’s fleet of ambulances nearly a dozen times over the course of several months.
According to KTRK, Republic EMS says in its lawsuit that it has recently won over clients from City Ambulance, leading to the company taking steps to retaliate. Specifically, Republic alleges that City Ambulance hired someone to shoot out the windows and a Republic ambulance with a firearm in May 2016.
Several months later, the company says, nine of its vehicles were vandalized “at a variety of locations in Texas.” It is unclear from court records what form this alleged vandalization took.
At another point, Republic says someone hired by City Ambulance cut the brake lines to one of their ambulances, according to the Houston Press, though the lawsuit does not specify when this allegedly occurred.
Because of the vandalism, Republic says it heightened security measures and ending up spending more than $100,000. While repairing the vehicles, the company says, it found GPS tracking devices that it believes City Ambulance installed to follow them and send advertising material to their clients, according to court documents.
“Defendants’ conduct is not just reckless, it is malicious and criminal,” the lawsuit reads. “ ... The conduct of the defendants is reprehensible. This is especially true considering that City Ambulance holds itself out as a provider of health services.”
In response, however, a lawyer representing City Ambulance told KTRK that the accusations are “totally absurd.”
“It sounds like something out of a movie. If they've done all this, where are the police?” attorney Robert Pelton told the station.
He also said the accusations were the result of former employees trying to damage City Ambulance’s reputation.
“It's very cutthroat. It's something like Al Capone and his crew would do,” Pelton said. “This is a revenge-type deal and they're using the courts seeking revenge. That's not the way you're supposed to do things.”
According to the Houston Press, City Ambulance is already fighting two lawsuits related to a February incident in which a City Ambulance driver crashed while transporting a patient to the hospital. The patient later died, and the paramedic with him in the back claims to have suffered a collapsed lung and broken wrist and arm.
According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “ambulance wars,” or competition between private and public emergency medical service providers were especially heated in the 1990s, as private companies providing ambulances spread and grew nationally, especially in cities.