Tenet, UnitedHealth, DaVita lose bid to end antitrust case

A Chicago federal judge has allowed an antitrust lawsuit to move forward against DaVita, Tenet Healthcare and UnitedHealth Group affiliates, according to Bloomberg Law

In a 30-page ruling issued Sept. 27, U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood denied the defendants' joint motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' claims. The two plaintiffs are former employees of Surgical Care Affiliates, which was acquired by a UnitedHealth subsidiary in 2017. 

The plaintiffs allege the defendants engaged in an antitrust conspiracy between 2010 and 2019 that involved reducing their employees' compensation by agreeing not to solicit or hire each other's employees unless the worker had already informed their existing employer that they were looking for a new job. 

"Viewing the [class action complaint] as a whole, plaintiffs allege not only the existence of three bilateral agreements between defendants but also multiple 'plus factors' from which a single overarching conspiracy can be inferred," the judge wrote in her opinion. "At this pleading stage, these allegations are sufficient." 

The judge did dismiss allegations against UnitedHealth Group but gave the plaintiffs a chance to refile an amended complaint that states a viable claim against the company. 

The defendants have denied claims of a conspiracy, according to Reuters.

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