Two Air Ambulance Suits Grounded in Two Days by Federal and State Courts

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Over the course of two days at the end of March, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Sonoma County Superior Court issued two separate decisions dismissing claims by air ambulance companies that sought to obtain medical provider benefits under workers’ compensation without following the dictates of the California workers’ compensation system. In both instances, the courts found that they did not have subject matter jurisdiction to consider the claims alleged by the air ambulance companies.

In early 2009, California Shock Trauma Air Rescue (“CALSTAR”) filed two virtually identical actions in federal court in Sacramento against more than 75 workers’ compensation insurers and self-insured employers.

CALSTAR’s lead lawsuit in the consolidated actions, California Shock Trauma Air Rescue v. State Compensation Insurance Fund, et al., argued that, as a result of CALSTAR being certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate as an air carrier, any claims for payment it submitted to workers’ compensation insurers and self-insured employers in California should not be limited to those amounts set forth in the Official Medical Fee Schedule for ambulance services, California Code of Regulations, title 8, section 9789.70.

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