The Federal Trade Commission won its price-fixing case against North Texas Specialty Physicians but still plans to appeal part of the Nov. 8 decision by Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell. FTC attorney Jonathan Platt filed a one-paragraph notice of intent to ask the five FTC commissioners to overrule Chappell's finding that the agency needed to establish a defined market to determine the Fort Worth, Texas-based IPA's market power.
Antitrust experts said that the FTC most likely fears Chappell's finding will establish bad precedent. Former FTC attorney Nicholas Koberstein, now in the Washington office of McDermott Will & Emery, said the agency probably will contend that Chappell deviated from legal standard -- that price-fixing is illegal on its face and there is no need for market definition. Meanwhile, a spokesman for 550-physician North Texas said the IPA is deciding whether to appeal Chappell's finding that it engaged in price-fixing and has five days to do so. -- by Mark Taylor