Judge approves partial settlement for antitrust lawsuit against Duke, U of North Carolina


A federal judge granted preliminary approval to the partial settlement of an antitrust lawsuit filed against Durham, N.C.-based Duke University, Duke University Health System, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and related parties Sept. 29.

As part of the settlement, UNC agreed not to enter or enforce any unlawful no-hire agreements or similar restraints on competition. UNC officials must also cooperate and provide documents, data and testimony to the plaintiff, Danielle Seaman, MD, as she pursues the case.

Dr. Seaman will not receive any monetary reward as part of the agreement. The settlement also explicitly notes UNC's denial of any wrongdoing.

The Duke parties are not part of the settlement and remain involved in the lawsuit.

Dr. Seaman, a former assistant professor of radiology at Duke University School of Medicine, alleged she lost out on a parallel faculty post at UNC in 2015 due to an agreement between UNC and Duke that prohibited the institutions from hiring each other's employees, according to The Herald-Sun. Dr. Seaman claimed the institutions' agreement suppressed competition and wages and violated antitrust laws, according to the lawsuit.

Dr. Seaman's lawyers reportedly want the judge to approve the case as a class-action lawsuit representing medical personnel employed at both institutions between Jan. 1, 2012, and Aug. 21, 2017. However, Duke officials are contesting the motion, The Herald-Sun reports.

"I am not aware of any instance in which Duke School of Medicine declined to recruit or hire anyone because he or she was a member of the [UNC] faculty or staff," Nancy Andrews, MD, PhD, former dean of the Duke University School of Medicine and former vice chancellor for academic affairs at Duke University, said in a signed statement filed Oct. 23, according to The Herald-Sun.

"I am not aware of anyone at Duke who believed that he or she was prevented from hiring a medical faculty member because the candidate was from [UNC]," Dr. Andrews added.

A final approval hearing is scheduled for Jan. 4, 2018.

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