• 61°

Commission to consider mediation options

The results of a mediation session over the disbanded Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Services will be reviewed in executive session on Tuesday by the Lawrence County Commission.

Last week Commissioner Les Boggs, County Auditor Jason Stephens and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Smith met with representatives from Jackson and Athens counties to attempt to end an impasse that has resulted in the filing of two lawsuits.

The mediation session was mandated by the Fourth District Court of Appeals following the filing of a lawsuit by Jackson and Athens counties against Lawrence County and a subsequent lawsuit by Lawrence against Jackson, Athens and SEOEMS.

SEOEMS, which was disbanded in 2010, had provided emergency medical services for the residents of the three counties since the 1970s. Since the dissolution of the EMS the three counties have unsuccessfully attempted to distribute its assets.

“All three counties are making a good faith effort,” Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson said about the mediation session. “We have various different stances on the issue and so far haven’t been able to convince each other. We are further along than we have ever been. Everybody at least understands the arguments of each county and we are trying to work it out.”

After the mediation session Anderson met with Smith for about an hour reviewing the legal arguments of the situation.

“To determine the best route for the commission,” Anderson said. “We need to discuss with (the commissioners) about our options.”

The Fourth District Court of Appeals mandated the mediation and Anderson will confer via telephone on Wednesday with the appellate court mediator about the results of the commission’s executive session and the current status of the issue.

“We are moving somewhat,” Anderson said. “But I am not sure we will meet a resolution that is satisfactory. A mediated resolution is better than years of litigation … but sometimes you can’t prevent litigation.”