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From Antitrust Law Daily, December 28, 2015

Medical group’s conspiracy claims properly tossed

By Greg Hammond, J.D.

Allegations that a medical association and physician hospital organization conspired to exclude a particular medical group at a Chicago hospital were properly dismissed, the Illinois Appellate Court in Chicago has decided. The court held that, without more, a staffing pattern dispute at one hospital does not cause an unreasonable restraint of trade within the ambit of the antitrust laws (Boffa Surgical Group LLC v. Managed Healthcare Associates Ltd., December 23, 2015, Lampkin, B.).

Boffa Surgical Group LLC, a medical group comprised of general surgeons, filed suit against Managed Healthcare Associates Ltd. and Swedish Covenant Managed Care Alliance, alleging that the defendants unreasonably restrained competition at Swedish Covenant Hospital, in violation of the Illinois Antitrust Act. Specifically, Boffa claims that the defendants excluded Boffa from defendants’ network even though the number of physicians in that network was not adequate to provide the necessary services for public health. Boffa still had privileges to practice medicine at Swedish Covenant Hospital and practiced medicine at other facilities in Illinois. The lower court dismissed Boffa’s complaint.

On appeal, Boffa argued that it sufficiently pleaded the ultimate facts needed to support its claim of conspiracy under the Illinois Antitrust Act. The appellate court rejected this argument, however, finding that dismissal was proper. In particular, the court noted that Boffa continued to practice at Swedish Covenant Hospital and at other locations in Illinois. Consequently, the only restraint was that Boffa could not practice as it would have preferred, as a member of defendants’ network of physicians.

In addition, the complaint lacked specific allegations supportive of an illegal antitrust conspiracy or agreement, according to the court. There were no factual details concerning the who, when, or how of the alleged conspiracy, or how it resulted in a restraint of trade in the marketplace, especially because there were 21 competing hospitals or medical centers within a short distance of Swedish Covenant Hospital. Furthermore, Boffa continued to enjoy staff privileges and practice medicine at Swedish Covenant Hospital, along with other Illinois locations.

The case is No. 1-14-2984.

Attorneys: (Novoselsky Law Office) for Boffa Surgical Group LLC. (Sedgwick LLP) for Managed Healthcare Associates Ltd. and Swedish Covenant Managed Care Alliance.

Companies: Boffa Surgical Group LLC; Managed Healthcare Associates Ltd.; Swedish Covenant Managed Care Alliance

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust IllinoisNews

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