Cases & Deals

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital jury verdict in antitrust case affirmed on appeal

Client(s) Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital

In April 2012, after nearly seven weeks of testimony and just over a day of deliberations, a jury in Santa Barbara, California, returned a complete defense verdict in favor of Jones Day client Cottage Health System, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, and four local neurosurgeons. The plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in instructing the jury and denying their motion for new trial. On October 1, 2013, the Court of Appeal of the State of California rejected the plaintiffs' appeal and affirmed the judgment entered by the trial court in its entirety.

The plaintiffs, a highly regarded orthopedic spine surgeon and two of his wholly owned companies, including an ambulatory surgery center, had filed suit in 2009 in Santa Barbara state court alleging a conspiracy between the hospital and the neurosurgeons to exclude the plaintiffs and other qualified orthopedic surgeons from performing emergency and trauma spine surgery and from receiving referrals for non-emergency spine surgery. The complaint asserted two separate violations under California's antitrust statute, the Cartwright Act, and an alleged violation under California's Unfair Competition Law, Business and Professions Code section 17200.  The jury ultimately determined there was not enough evidence to support an unlawful agreement among the defendants.

The Court of Appeal found that the trial court did not err in any respect, and even if it did, the plaintiffs did not establish they suffered any prejudice as a result of the alleged errors.

Moelleken v. Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, No. 1339785 (Super. Ct., Santa Barbara Cty., Anacapa Div., Cal.), aff'd, No. B242545 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013)