Cases & Deals

Sutter Health wins complete defense verdict in landmark antitrust class action

Clients Sutter Health

Jones Day won a complete defense jury verdict for Sutter Health in a landmark antitrust class action seeking $1.2 billion in treble damages. The case was filed in 2012 in the Northern District of California, spawning almost a decade of fiercely contested litigation on behalf of a class of 3 million individuals and businesses. In a five-week trial with over 50 witnesses, Jones Day persuaded the jury to reject all of plaintiffs’ claims. The jury found that Sutter had not used its alleged market power to tie its hospitals together by allegedly forcing insurance companies to include all Sutter hospitals in a health plan network if the insurers wanted any of them. This finding rejected plaintiffs' claim that Sutter had improperly penalized insurance companies by charging higher rates for out-of-network care when its hospitals were excluded. Jones Day also persuaded the jury to reject plaintiffs’ claim Sutter had forced the insurers to agree to contract terms that prevented steering patients to non-Sutter hospitals. Jones Day showed through extensive fact and expert witness testimony that Sutter’s contracts benefited patients by producing lower prices and allowing Sutter to evaluate whether to participate in health plan networks based on, among other things, whether the network would interfere with Sutter's ability to provide high-quality coordinated care to its patients and whether the network could lead to surprise bills. By endorsing Sutter's right to protect its patients in this manner and to offer lower rates when it is included in a health plan network, this verdict makes an important contribution to proper antitrust analysis of hospital systems in California and across the country.

Sidibe, et al. v. Sutter Health, No. 3-12-cv-04854 (N.D. Cal.)