Steward claims Southcoast filed 'sham' lawsuit in battle over market share

Boston-based Steward Health Care and New Bedford, Mass.-based Southcoast Health System are involved in a bitter battle over market share, and their dispute landed in federal court this week, according to the Boston Globe.

Steward wants to open a diagnostic cardiac catheterization laboratory in St. Anne's Hospital in Fall River, Mass. a move that is strongly opposed by Southcoast.

Cardiac catheterization is already performed at two Southcoast hospitals, which are located close to St. Anne's: Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, located two miles away, and St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford, located 15 miles away.

Southcoast tried to prevent Steward's unit at St. Anne's from opening through a lawsuit filed in October. Although a judge declined to issue a preliminary injunction to block the lab from opening, Southcoast said it would press forward with the litigation, according to the report.

On Monday, Steward fired back by filing a federal lawsuit, alleging Southcoast is violating a federal antitrust law. Steward also alleges Southcoast's state lawsuit is a "sham" and that Southcoast has defamed Steward in the media.

"Southcoast has made false, misleading and defamatory comments about Steward while trying to protect its monopoly and revenue," Brooke Thurston, a Steward spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail to the Boston Globe.

Regarding the lawsuit, Peter Cohenno, a Southcoast spokesman said the complaint on first review, "appears to be nothing more than effort to divert attention away from the pending state court action," according to the report.

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