Rockford Returns — Part II: Court Grants FTC’s Preliminary Injunction Against Hospital Merger to Preserve Status Quo for Preliminary Hearing

In 1989, the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) successfully challenged a proposed merger between Rockford Health System (Rockford) and SwedishAmerican Health System (SwedishAmerican), two of the three major general acute-care hospital systems in the Rockford, Illinois region. United States v. Rockford Mem’l, 717 F.Supp. 1251, aff’d, 898 F.2d 1278 (7th Cir. 1990).

On April 5, 2012, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) motion seeking relief under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act enjoining Rockford from being acquired by the area’s third hospital system, OSF Healthcare Systems (OSF)1 FTC v. OSF Healthcare System, No. 11-cv-50344 (N.D. Ill. filed Apr. 5, 2012) (pending an administrative trial at the FTC on the merger). The trial is scheduled to begin before an FTC Administrative Law Judge on April 27, 2012. While similar to seeking preliminary injunctive relief in federal court, the FTC has argued successfully in this and other recent cases that its burden under Section 13(b) is lighter than the normal showing required for a preliminary injunction.

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