A 4-year-old antitrust lawsuit filed by a now-defunct ambulatory surgery center and its physician owners against a Rome, N.Y., hospital finally will go to trial, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. U.S. District Judge David Hurd in Utica, N.Y., threw out nine of the 12 counts filed against Rome (N.Y.) Memorial Hospital and its parent corporation, Greater Rome Affiliates, by Rome Ambulatory Surgery Center and denied the surgery center's three motions for summary judgment. But he allowed three of the surgery center's charges to proceed to trial.
The surgery center opened in 1999 and operated on the former Griffis Air Force Base for 18 months until January 2001, when it alleged it was driven out of business by the hospital's anticompetitive conduct. The hospital has denied the allegations, saying the clinic closed because its own physicians were not referring to it and its owners did not manage it well.
In his 52-page opinion ruling the case can go forward, Hurd wrote that "the defendants' conduct could be found to be a substantial factor in causing a material injury to RASC. Furthermore, that injury is properly considered an antitrust injury," noting that the surgery center meets the standing requirement. No trial date has been set. -- by Mark Taylor