A second former Oxford EMS employee on Wednesday filed suit against the ambulance service, saying its leaders fired her in retaliation for her participation in an Alabama Ethics Commission complaint against her boss.

Anniston attorney Joel Laird filed the suit on behalf of Ann Moody, a former office manager for Oxford EMS.

Laird, a former Calhoun County judge, also represents former Oxford EMS employee Melissa Hall. Hall claims in a separate suit filed July 31 that Oxford EMS officials wrongfully terminated her.

Both the suits also name the city of Oxford as a defendant. Each alleges that Oxford EMS was improperly formed and that the Oxford City Council didn’t have the authority to establish the service when it did.

Mark White, an attorney for Oxford EMS, said the organization would continue to be its community’s first responders.

“If the plaintiffs are trying to limit first responders being available to the city, that’s a tragedy,” White said.

Ron Allen, the city attorney for Oxford, said Oxford EMS is a separate corporate entity and the city is in no way liable in the matter.

“They have their own board and we have no involvement in the everyday operations,” he said.

Asked about the validity of the ambulance service’s incorporation, Allen said, “They are in fact who they say they are. But whether they are or aren’t doesn’t reflect on the city because we don’t control Oxford EMS.”

Oxford EMS adopted its name in 1990 to reflect the organization’s decision at that time to secure licensure from the state Department of Public Health. Known previously as the Oxford Emergency and Rescue Squad, under that name it operated according to the standards of the Alabama Association of Rescue Squads.

Efforts to reach Laird on Friday were not immediately successful.

Both suits ask for punitive damages and the dissolution of the ambulance service.

Hall brought a suit against the Oxford EMS board of directors in 2017, saying the board had violated the Alabama Open Meetings Act. A judge dismissed that suit, finding that Hall did not meet the requirements for a private citizen to sue under the act. Anyone bringing such a suit must show they were more harmed by the alleged violation than any other member of the public, the judge wrote in his ruling.

Oxford EMS director Ricky Howell was cleared of alleged ethics law violations in 2017. The commission members found “there was not probable cause” to believe that Howell violated the state’s ethics law.

According to Moody’s suit, she also filed an ethics complaint against Howell. According to the document, the commission found that it did not have jurisdiction because Howell is not paid with public funds so he doesn’t meet the definition of a public employee.  

In her suit filed Wednesday,  Moody asks for a declaratory judgement stating Oxford EMS workers are public employees.

 

 

Assistant Metro Editor Daniel Gaddy: 256-235-3560. On Twitter @DGaddy_Star.

I'm the assistant metro editor for The Anniston Star. I edit, post online stories and write the occasional story.

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