Trinity accuses orthopedic group of anti-competitive behavior in lawsuit

Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health is suing Grand Rapids-based Orthopaedic Associates of Michigan, accusing the practice of holding a monopoly in Kent County. 

Four surgeons, Timothy Henne, MD; Timothy Lenters, MD; John Healey, MD; and Geoffrey Sandman, MD, are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Jan. 31 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

The surgeons, who worked at a practice acquired by OAM in 2018, submitted resignations from the practice in September, the lawsuit said. The surgeons want to work for IHA, an affiliate of Trinity Health, as employed physicians, but OAM "has insisted on enforcement of its noncompete clause and has refused to permit them to do so," the lawsuit said.

OAM, which has a 64 percent share in Kent County's orthopedic market, has a noncompete clause that precludes resigning physicians from practicing within a 50-mile radius of OAM for one year, the lawsuit said.

The four surgeons perform most of their cases at Saint Mary's, a Trinity Health hospital, and the lawsuit argues enforcing noncompete clauses would affect that hospital's ability to provide orthopedic care and interfere with the orthopedic residency and emergency care. 

Kenneth Easton, MD, president of OAM described the situation as "unfortunate" in a Feb. 2 email to Becker's and said he expects the outcome to follow similar cases in the past.

"The core dispute revolves around an elaborate effort to nullify the industry-wide, common contractual obligations of physicians departing their existing practices," Dr. Easton said. "The remainder of the complaints in the suit are designed to leverage this core issue. Medical practices and hospital systems, including Trinity, routinely enforce such provisions in their physician contracts. Historically, such provisions have been upheld and enforced by the courts. We look forward to a favorable outcome."

Trinity Health seeks a jury trial for damages and for the four surgeons to be released from any employment restrictions. The health system also wants a judge to rule OAM's noncompete clauses as violations of federal law.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars