A group of Florida doctors and provider groups have settled a nearly $350 million antitrust suit against integrated system Health First on Tuesday, on the second day of a three-week trial.
Before the jury was seated to hear testimony for the first time in the case, attorneys for Health First and the plaintiffs informed a federal judge they had settled the case. The jury had heard opening statements on Monday.
U.S. District Judge Roy Dalton Jr. excused the jury, according to court documents. Terms of the settlement have not been made public.
The trial was scheduled to last three weeks, as multispecialty physician group Omni Healthcare and more than a dozen other physicians accused Health First of “intimidating” physicians in southern Brevard County and obstructing their ability to practice medicine if they didn't refer patients exclusively to the health system's hospitals and specialists.
Melbourne, Fla.-based Omni sued Health First in federal court in 2013 after the system acquired the physician group Melbourne Internal Medicine Associates, a move they claimed lessened competition. They sought to unwind the deal and receive up to $346 million in damages.
Omni Healthcare and its co-plaintiffs aren't the only ones alleging Health First has engaged in anticompetitive activity. The Rockledge-based integrated system also faces a state lawsuit from public hospital Parrish Medical Center, Titusville, for allegedly trying to monopolize medical and radiation oncology services in Brevard County.
Health First had long claimed the allegations were meritless, and Matthew Gerrell, Health First's vice president of marketing and communications, had said a settlement was unlikely.
Health First had $1.26 billion in operating revenue in 2015, according to Modern Healthcare's Healthcare Systems Financials Database. It owns and operates health plans, hospitals, physician groups and other fitness and wellness services.
Representatives for Health First and the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.