There's no one better to have in your corner than a federal judge if you're a hospital with an antitrust problem.
In May 1994, a special task force created by the local business coalition in Grand Rapids, Mich., released a report on excess hospital capacity there. It recommended that 328-bed Blodgett Memorial Medical Center not go ahead with its plans to build a $187 million replacement facility but instead seek a merger partner or another alternative.
After the release of the report, Blodgett began exploring a possible merger with Grand Rapids' largest hospital, 529-bed Butterworth Hospital. The deal was challenged by the Federal Trade Commission, but a federal judge in Lansing, Mich., denied the FTC's request to halt the deal.
In doing so, the judge avoided upstaging another federal judge in Michigan who recommended that Blodgett merge with another hospital.
The special task force formerly was called the Kent County Area Health Care Facilities Study Commission. It was known as the "Hillman Commission." The commission was nicknamed for its chairman: U.S. District Judge Douglas Hillman, a 74-year-old senior judge in Grand Rapids, where, according to his office, he was born and raised.