Antitrust Lawyer Blog Commentary on Current Developments

U.S COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT AFFIRMS FTC DECISION THAT THE NORTH TEXAS SPECIALTY PHYSICIANS ENGAGED IN ANTICOMPETITIVE PRACTICES

On May 16, 2008, in a unanimous opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed a 2006 Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) decision that found the North Texas Specialty Physicians (“NTSP”), based in Fort Worth, TX, participated in horizontal price fixing activities.
The Court found that the FTC’s decision was correct and there was no need of a “fullblown market analysis.” It did however state that FTC’s remedial order was too broad in one narrow aspect and remanded the FTC to modify that provision.

In September 2003, the FTC charged the NTSP had negotiated prices and other terms amongst its affiliated physicians, illegally polled its members to determine the minimum fee they would accept for medical services, and discouraged affiliated physicians from negotiating with payors one-on-one. After an affirmation of the charges from the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) D. Michael Chappell in 2004, the Commission, a year later, issued a decision in favor the ALJ’s ruling, and found that the NTSP participated in illegal anticompetitive practices.

Robert Doyle
(202) 589-1834
rdoyle@dbmlawgroup.com