Lehigh Valley

Nazareth Ambulance Corps sues Northampton County Executive John Stoffa

Issue involes the way county contract is being awarded

EASTON, Pa. - The Nazareth Ambulance Corps accuses Northampton County Executive John Stoffa of violating the county's administrative code in a lawsuit filed in county court.

The suit involves a contract for medical transport services.  It follows a related suit on the same issue that was filed in May against the county executive by Northampton County Council.

Nazareth Ambulance Corps maintains the county code requires Stoffa to use a "competitive negotiation method" in awarding contracts for professional services.

It is asking the court to rule that a proposed contract has not been properly sought and that the county executive should be required to utilize the competitive negotiation method.

In August 2012 and February 2013, according to the suit, Stoffa did use that method in seeking requests for proposals for a contract for medical transport services from  Gracedale, the county's nursing home.

Stoffa awarded the contract to Bethlehem-based Lifestar Response Corp.

The suit contends Stoffa, through Gracedale Administrator Millard D. Freeman, engaged in private discussions with Lifestar regarding its proposal and the proposals submitted by Nazareth Ambulance Corps. 

The suit maintains Stoffa did not accord Nazareth Ambulance Corps "fair and equal treatment."

After those private discussions with Lifestar, Stoffa recommended that Northampton County Council award the medical transport services contract to Lifestar. But the county council rejected that recommendation.

In April, according to the suit, Stoffa abandoned the competitive negotiation method and utilized a competitive sealed bidding method to award the contract.

In May, the county executive notified county council that he intended to award the contract to Lifestar. He said Lifestar submitted the lowest bid for the service.

But the county council voted to take legal action to stop him from signing the contract with Lifestar.

The majority of council members want Nazareth Ambulance Corps to continue providing that service for Gracedale.

Later in May, the county council sued Stoffa, saying he violated the county's home rule charter by requesting sealed bids for ambulance services.

In June, the  council won a court injunction against Stoffa , preventing him from signing a contract with Lifestar.

 Stoffa maintained he  was just following executive privilege to make a wise decision with taxpayers in mind.

 The ambulance corps is represented by Atty. Alfred S. Pierce, who filed the suit on Friday.

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