In a legal victory for hospitals facing an antitrust lawsuit from 19,000 Chicago-area nurses, a federal judge has denied the workers' class-action status because, he said, their arguments rested on a shoddy theory that the alleged anti-competitive activity by the hospitals affected all the workers similarly. However, the ruling does not absolve the hospitals' alleged conduct, leaving open the possibility of “19,000 minitrials.”
Judge denies class-action status to nurses' lawsuit
The case is one of five similar lawsuits filed in different federal circuits across the country, and is at least the second in which a judge denied class-action status to the nurses. Judges in Albany, N.Y., reached the same decision last year, while the other cases are still pending in Detroit, Memphis, Tenn., and San Antonio.
In each of the cases, filed with the support of the Service Employees International Union in 2006, nurses allege that hospital administrators artificially depressed wages during a nursing shortage by sharing confidential salary information and conspiring to prevent “overbidding” that would usually result when the supply of a resource like labor is scarce.
In Chicago, U.S. District Judge John Grady's opinion said the nurses would have to litigate the issue independently because granting class-action status based on average losses would obscure the widely variable differences in pay and circumstances among individuals.
What do you think? Post a comment on this article and share your opinion with other readers. Submit your comments to Modern Healthcare Online at [email protected]. Please be sure to include your hometown and state, along with your organization and title.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.