Friday, April 20, 2012

Excluded Radiologist Lacked Antitrust Standing to Sue Hospital, Physician Groups

This posting was written by Jeffrey May, Editor of CCH Trade Regulation Reporter.

A radiologist who was excluded from two New Jersey hospitals after the hospitals’ operator selected a new exclusive radiology provider lacked antitrust standing to pursue boycott and monopoly claims, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia decided earlier this week.

Nearly a decade ago, the radiologist filed his antitrust claims, alleging the hospital operator, its director of radiology, and two radiology physician groups conspired to boycott him in the local radiology market and used illegal tying arrangements to link radiology services to hospital services. He also alleged that exclusive radiology provider contracts were intended to monopolize the outpatient and hospital radiology markets.

The cardiologist failed to establish a nexus between his purported exclusion from the market for radiology jobs and the anticompetitive effects of the alleged conduct, the court ruled.

Because the complaining radiologist obtained a position with a nearby hospital within two weeks of his termination the original radiology group, he could not show that he was excluded entirely from the market.

The radiologist did not demonstrate that the challenged conduct was anticompetitive. He failed to show that the behavior leading to his exclusion—the change of contractor in a long-standing practice of exclusive contracting for radiology services—was the type that might lessen competition among radiology providers for the right to practice in the market.

Finally, the complaining radiologist failed to establish that his termination stemmed directly from conduct that was illegal because of its anticompetitive effects on the price, output, or quality of radiology services available to consumers. There was no indication that the radiologist’s exclusion allowed the defendants to provide substandard radiology services and reduce consumer choice, it was noted.

The April 17 non-precedential decision in Bocobo v. Radiology Consultants of South Jersey, P.A. will appear in CCH Trade Regulation Reporter.

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