A New Jersey district court recently denied a motion to dismiss Talone, et. al. v. The American Osteopathic Association, an antitrust class action. The suit alleges that the physician association violated the Sherman Act by illegally tying osteopaths’ board certification to association membership.  The defendant association moved to dismiss, arguing that plaintiffs, a group of affected doctors, had failed to allege sufficient facts to demonstrate foreclosure of competition or antitrust injury.  This alert reviews plaintiffs’ claims, the association’s arguments against them, and the court’s denial of the association’s motion to dismiss.

The antitrust suit against Willis Knighton Medical Center will continue following the denial of its motion to dismiss.  BRFHH Shreveport v. Willis Knighton Med. Ctr., case number 5:15-cv-02057 (W.D. La. Mar. 31, 2016).  The case was filed last July by BRFF Shreveport, a competing healthcare provider, and Vantage Health Plan, a health insurer.  The district court held that plaintiffs had sufficiently pled anticompetitive conduct and injury relating to Willis Knighton’s acquisitions of competing providers.

Plaintiff BRFHH Shreveport is the operator of University Health Hospital in Louisiana.  Plaintiff Vantage specializes in lower-cost HMO coverage.  Defendant Willis Knighton operates four hospitals and six clinics in the Shreveport area.  According to plaintiffs, Willis Knighton’s share of hospital admissions in the Shreveport area is approximately 60% overall, and approximately 75% among commercially insured patients.

Plaintiffs previously sought a preliminary injunction to block the joint venture, which the district court denied.  Willis Knighton then sought to dismiss all claims against it.  Ruling from the bench, the district court previously denied the motion to dismiss on all but one ground—Vantage’s Sherman Act Section 2 claim.  Specifically, Vantage alleged that Willis Knighton’s prior acquisitions of competitors, physician referral practices, and non-compete employment contracts violated Section 2.  That claim was addressed in the district court’s 50-page order. Continue Reading LSU Hospital Operator May Proceed with Antitrust Suit Against Competing Health System