LGN Attorneys Submit Amicus Brief on behalf of COSAL and AAI

LGN attorneys Joe Bourne and Kristen Marttila, on behalf of the Committee to Support the Antitrust Laws (COSAL), along with Randy Stutz on behalf of the American Antitrust Institute (AAI), submitted an amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit today in support of the plaintiffs in Sidibe v. Sutter Health, a certified class action that was tried to a jury. 

The plaintiffs in the litigation below claimed they paid supracompetitive prices for health insurance premiums because of Sutter Health’s anticompetitive conduct. The plaintiffs alleged Sutter Health violated the federal and California antitrust laws when it forced health plans to negotiate with its hospitals on a systemwide (rather than hospital-by-hospital) basis beginning in the late 1990s or early 2000s and to accept anticompetitive provisions in its contracts. 

In their brief, COSAL and AAI argue that the district court erred in excluding certain pre-class period evidence that was contemporaneous with the defendant’s consideration and implementation of the challenged restraint of trade. This exclusion was error because evidence regarding the history of the restraint and the reasons for its adoption are relevant to the jury’s assessment of a Sherman Act claim, and is independently sufficient to demonstrate a violation under California’s Cartwright Act. The brief also argues that the district court erred in allowing the jury to consider evidence of market power and market definition from the perspective of the individual insured, rather than from the perspective of the health plans, which the Ninth Circuit and other courts of appeal have recognized are the actual payors within the healthcare marketplace.

LGN is a longtime member of COSAL, which was founded in 1986 to promote and support the enactment, preservation, and enforcement of a strong body of antitrust laws in the United States. Ms. Marttila serves as the vice-chair of COSAL’s amicus committee.