PeaceHealth, Bellevue, Wash., broke federal antitrust laws in attempting to monopolize hospital care in Lane County, Ore., and illegally interfered in the business relations of a smaller rival, 106-bed McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center, Springfield, Ore., an Oregon federal jury ruled. The jury awarded McKenzie-Willamette $16.2 million in damages. The hospital also is entitled to collect legal fees, which could reach $4 million, said its attorney, Thomas Triplett of Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, Portland, Ore. McKenzie-Willamette Chairwoman Maureen Weathers said the jury award would go to a not-for-profit foundation that owns 20% of the hospital and would be used to provide medical care. Alan Yordy, CEO of PeaceHealth's Oregon region, said the system will ask the judge to set aside the verdict, which the system says is not supported by the facts of the case and. If unsuccessful, PeaceHealth likely will appeal the verdict, Yordy said. The system, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, owns six hospitals in the Northwest, including 404-bed Sacred Heart Medical Center, Eugene, Ore. The battle between McKenzie-Willamette and PeaceHealth is a rare example of a private hospital antitrust lawsuit. McKenzie-Willamette filed the lawsuit in January 2002 in U.S. District Court in Eugene. -- by Mark Taylor
Jury: PeaceHealth tried to monopolize Ore. market
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