Failure to seal documents in antitrust review could have grave consequences, Aetna's legal team says

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A federal judge's decision to decline Aetna's motion to seal certain business information that it produced as a third party in an antitrust lawsuit could have grave consequences, lawyers for the health insurer said in an opening brief July 20. 

Aetna produced documents as a third party in the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust lawsuit that sought to prevent two Philadelphia health systems, Einstein Health Network and Jefferson Health, from merging. The FTC lost its legal challenge to the merger last year.

In March, a federal judge declined Aetna's motion to seal some documents it produced for the antitrust review. In the decision, the judge said disclosure of the documents was "in the interest of justice" even though Aetna was a third party. 

Aetna said the documents and testimony contained bid and price information, negotiating strategies, strategic plans and contracting information.

Aetna's lawyers now are arguing that the judge's refusal to seal business records "may significantly chill third-party companies' willingness to voluntarily provide critical information to antitrust regulators during their merger review.

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