Medical Center and Surgeons Resolve Suit Regarding On Call Duty

Charleston Area Medical Center, Inc. ("CAMC") has reached a settlement with Thoracic & Cardiovascular Associates, Inc. ("TCA"), six cardiovascular surgeons respectively who are affiliated with TCA and one cardiovascular surgeon who is not affiliated with TCA (collectively the "surgeon group"). The settlement resolved CAMC's antitrust allegations against the surgeon group, as well as the surgeon group's claims against CAMC for higher back pay. CAMC and the surgeon group indicated in a joint statement that they were pleased with the resolution, although the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

CAMC had filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, alleging that the surgeon group had violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by: (1) agreeing to fix the price at which the surgeon group would serve on cardiovascular trauma emergency call ("on call"), (2) agreeing to restrain price competition for on call services and (3) participating in a concerted refusal to be on call unless CAMC agreed to a certain price for such services. The on call duties that were the subject of the case consisted of the obligations to remain available to consult with CAMC's Trauma Center by telephone and, if necessary, to treat a patient in person at the Trauma Center. According to the Complaint, each individual surgeon had demanded a $2,000 fee for each day that he was on call. CAMC had refused their demands.

The surgeon group had previously filed a civil action against CAMC in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, West Virginia requesting (1) $2,000 per day for each day each individual surgeon had been on call since January 1, 2001 and (2) a preliminary and permanent injunction against a CAMC policy that prevented physicians (including the surgeon group) from transferring trauma care patients from one of CAMC's campuses, which the surgeon group alleged to be inadequate, to either of CAMC's other two campuses.

For additional information about this Antitrust Development, please contact Toby G. Singer, leader of the Health Care Antitrust Practice.

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