Antitrust lawsuit against Premier Health heads back to lower court

A district court ruling in an antitrust lawsuit against Dayton, Ohio-based Premier Health has been reversed on appeal, according to a Dayton Daily News report.

The Medical Center at Elizabeth Place, a physician-owned hospital in Dayton, filed the lawsuit against Premier in 2012. In its lawsuit, MCEP alleged that Premier colluded with other defendants— Catholic Health Initiatives, MedAmerica Health Systems Corp., Atrium Health System, Samaritan Health Partners and Upper Valley Medical Center — to cut off MCEP's access to insurers' networks.

A district court dismissed the lawsuit in 2014, and that ruling was recently reversed on appeal.

Judge Gilbert Merritt, writing for the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, wrote that the lower court failed to adjudicate the question of whether the behavior of the group of hospitals constitutes anti-competitive conduct before dismissing the case on summary judgment.

"We were surprised and disappointed at the appellate court's two-to-one decision reversing the case and remanding it back to the trial judge," Dale Creech, chief legal officer at Premier, told the Dayton Daily News. "We are still analyzing the decision and considering our options with our outside counsel, which include asking the entire Sixth Circuit Court to review it."

Alex Rintoul, CEO of MCEP, said, "We are pleased that the U.S. Court of Appeals recognized the overwhelming evidence of Premier's illegal conduct and has reinstated our lawsuit."

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