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updated: 6/22/2012 4:39 PM

Antioch Rescue Squad accused in lawsuit of not paying contractor

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The Antioch Rescue Squad is being sued by its former paramedic contractor for not paying for services, breaking its contract and stealing employees, according to a lawsuit filed this week.

Metro Paramedic Services of Elmhurst filed the suit in Lake County circuit court, claiming the rescue squad terminated its three-year contract without warning on June 15.

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The company is seeking payment for services and at least $100,000 in damages.

Attempts to reach Antioch Rescue Squad Chief Wayne Sobczak and President Steven Smouse on Friday for comment on the lawsuit were unsuccessful.

Metro Paramedic Services attorney James Witz of Freeborn and Peters in Chicago refused to discuss the lawsuit when contacted Friday.

This is the second time in recent months a lawsuit has surfaced against the Antioch Rescue Squad.

A lawsuit filed in February claimed three female employees were repeatedly sexually harassed while working voluntary shifts at the Antioch Rescue Squad. Metro Paramedic Services and Superior Air Ground Ambulance Services Inc. were also named in that suit.

The lawsuits have been filed while Antioch village officials say they are working on a contract with the rescue squad that would provide more oversight.

Mayor Larry Hanson refused to comment on the lawsuit on Friday, adding "I can't comment on any of their situation until we have a solid agreement with them."

According to the contract between Metro and the Antioch Rescue Squad that accompanied the lawsuit filing this week, the company is to provide three paramedics at rescue stations Monday through Friday, 12 hours a day. Metro is also expected to provide emergency medical technicians on an as-needed basis during off hours at a rate of $19.60 per hour.

Antioch Rescue Squad stations are filled with volunteer rescue members when the stations are not staffed by Metro employees, officials said.

Under the contract that began in February 2010, Antioch Rescue Squad was to pay Metro $22,285 a month -- $267,421 annually in 2012 -- plus overtime when applicable.

However, the lawsuit filed this week claims the rescue squad hasn't paid for paramedic services in March, May, or June -- a total of $66,855.

According to the contract, the rescue squad also is required to give Metro Paramedic Services 180 days notice before terminating its contract, and is not allowed to aid any other entity in hiring contracted Metro paramedics.

The lawsuit states an official from the rescue squad contacted Metro on June 15 to immediately terminate that contract, then contacted paramedics working for Metro at Antioch and asked them to switch companies.

The lawsuit contends all but two of the former Metro employees went with the new company hired by the Antioch Rescue Squad, despite Metro offering them jobs in other nearby rescue departments.

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