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Ambulance district cannot force city to pay for services without valid written contract

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

A city police officer called an ambulance for a suspect who had been arrested and was visibly ill. The city had no written contract with the ambulance district. The ambulance bill was not paid, and the ambulance district filed suit against the suspect and the city, seeking payment. State Statute, (§ 190.060 RSMo.) allows the ambulance district to fix, charge, and collect fees for its services. The ambulance district had previously enacted in ordinance requiring that when an individual is detained by law enforcement and the individual becomes ill, requiring the dispatch of an ambulance, the entity that detained the individual shall be liable for ambulance charges. Nevertheless, the Missouri Court of Appeals, in Howard County Ambulance District v. City of Fayette, WD80699 (Mo. App. W.D. Feb. 20, 2018) held that § 432.070 RSMo., which requires any contract with a city "must be in writing and duly executed," limited the applicability of § 190.060 and the Ambulance District Ordinance. Although the latter permitted the ambulance district to charge the city, the city still could not be liable for such charges without a written contract complying with § 432.070 RSMo.

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