A federal judge in Albany, Ga., dismissed an antitrust lawsuit filed by a hospital alleging its larger rival used its monopolies in several service lines to bury competition.
U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands on March 31 granted a motion by 439-bed Phoebe Putnam Memorial Hospital in Albany to dismiss the case brought by 170-bed Palmyra Medical Center, which is owned by Nashville-based HCA. The lawsuit argues that Phoebe Putney used its dominance in the market to coerce insurers into exclusive managed-care contracts.
Phoebe Putney, the largest hospital in southwest Georgia, since 1990 has leased its assets from the Hospital Authority of Albany/Dougherty County. Palmyra Medical Centers lawsuit alleges that the authoritys failure to cancel the contract because of Phoebe Putneys anticompetitive conduct constituted a conspiracy to restrain trade under the federal Sherman Antitrust Act. Sands also found that Palmyras argument that the hospital suffered direct injury from Phoebe Putneys conduct highly speculative.
All the way along, Phoebe and its counsel have believed it has operated fairly and competitively within the market, said Robert Baudino of the Baudino Law Group, who represented Phoebe Putnam.
Palmyra spokesman Eric Riggle said in a written statement that the hospital is reviewing the decision and considering its options.