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Federal Court Allows Claims of Interference with Competing Dialysis Center to Proceed

 

Email Alert

August 10, 2006

On June 29, 2006, a Middle District of Georgia judge dismissed in part and allowed in part claims that a former hospital employer of a nephrologist interfered with the nephrologist's attempt to operate a competing dialysis facility.

Plaintiff Mark Wood, the former Director of Defendant Archbold Medical Center's inpatient and outpatient dialysis units, filed an antitrust complaint challenging allegedly anticompetitive actions aimed at eliminating competition from his dialysis facilities. According to the complaint, after a falling-out with Archbold's administration, Wood resigned his position and began plans to build a competing dialysis facility. Archbold allegedly offered to pay Wood not to open the facility, but Wood refused Archbold's offer and subsequently opened both home care and onsite dialysis facilities. In response, Archbold purportedly interfered with Wood's operation of his facilities (resulting in their eventual sale) and used its peer review authority to harass him and to revoke his staff privileges at Archbold. Wood then sued Archbold and certain of its administrators and staff on behalf of both himself and his former facility, alleging Sherman Act violations; state law tort claims; and state law deceptive practices claims. Archbold moved to dismiss the complaint.

After finding that the defendants were not immune under the Health Care Quality Improvements Act or the Georgia Peer Review statute, the judge held that Wood and the facility each had shown sufficient antitrust standing. Further, the judge found that the plaintiffs had pled sufficient facts to make out their claims for refusal to deal, tortious interference, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The judge dismissed the plaintiffs' deceptive practices claims, however.

Access a copy of Wood v. Archbold Medical Ctr., No. 6:05-CV-53.

We would like to thank Richard Korman (Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, Mishawaka, IN) for providing this email alert.

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