Can a Hospital Alliance Constitute a Single Entity for Antitrust Purposes? It Depends, Says One District Court

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On August 30, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio denied a motion to dismiss a complaint that alleged a per se group boycott by a managing agent and its affiliated hospitals in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Med. Ctr. at Elizabeth Place, LLC v. Premier Health Partners, et al., No. 3:12-cv-26 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 30, 2012). The Court examined whether hospitals operating under a joint operating agreement (JOA) constitute a single entity — and therefore are incapable of a group boycott — and concluded that since it is a “factually driven issue,” it, at least on this complaint, could not be resolved on a motion to dismiss.

Plaintiff Medical Center at Elizabeth Place (MCEP) filed the complaint against Premier Health Partners (Premier) and its hospital affiliates, Atrium Health Systems, Catholic Health Initiatives, MedAmerica Health Systems, Samaritan Health Partners, and Upper Valley Medical Center (collectively, Defendants), which function under a JOA.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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