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The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced yesterday a criminal indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Las Vegas, Nevada charging a health care staffing company and its former manager of entering into and engaging in a conspiracy with a competitor to allocate and fix the wages of employee nurses in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act (15 U.S.C. § 1).
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Last week, Geisinger Health (“Geisinger”) and Evangelical Community Hospital (“Evangelical”) reached a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), resolving the DOJ’s ongoing litigation challenging Geisinger’s partial acquisition of Evangelical. Notably, the settlement agreement, among other terms, limits Geisinger’s ownership interest in Evangelical to a 7.5% passive investment and prevents Geisinger from exercising any control or influence over Evangelical.
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Back in December, we wrote about a district court ruling rejecting the Federal Trade Comission’s (“FTC”) motion to enjoin the proposed combination of Thomas Jefferson University (“TJU”) and Albert Einstein Healthcare Network (“Einstein”) that would create an 18-hospital system in the Philadelphia area. The FTC and the Pennsylvania Attorney General had alleged the merger would lead to TJU/Einstein controlling at least 60% of the inpatient GAC hospital services market in a portion of Philadelphia. Following the district court decision, the FTC quickly appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and filed an emergency motion for a stay pending appeal. Days later, a three-judge panel denied the government’s motion without comment.
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On February 18, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the divestiture order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in a private merger challenge brought by Steves and Sons Inc. (“Steves”) against Jeld-Wen Inc. (“Jeld-Wen”) relating to Jeld-Wen’s acquisition of CraftMaster Manufacturing Inc. (“CMI”) in 2012. While divestitures are the government’s preferred remedy when it challenges a merger, this case represents the first instance when this remedy was ordered in a private litigation.
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The FTC, and antitrust enforcement in general, are having their moment. For example, in early January the Supreme Court heard oral argument in AMG Capital Management v. Federal Trade Commission, a case questioning the FTC’s authority to require defendants to pay restitution for money obtained as the result of illegal activities. In that case, there is significant doubt about whether the Court will uphold the FTC Act’s Section 13(b) provision allowing for the FTC to obtain this equitable relief, and such a ruling would drastically change the way FTC approaches enforcement.
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HSR Notification Thresholds Decrease in 2021

February 1, 2021 | Alert | By Bruce Sokler, Robert Kidwell, Farrah Short

This alert reviews the lower jurisdictional thresholds scheduled to be published by the FTC on February 2, 2021for premerger notification filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (HSR Act).
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Last week, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced the criminal indictment of Surgical Care Affiliates LLC (“SCA”), an Alabama- and Illinois-based company, which owned and operated outpatient medical centers around the U.S., for its alleged agreements with competitors not to solicit senior-level employees. DOJ has been suggesting since 2006 that it would use the criminal provisions of the antitrust laws against into employee allocation agreements—commonly called no-poach agreements, and DOJ has now followed through on its warnings.
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FTC’s Hospital Merger Challenges Hit Speedbump in Philadelphia

December 15, 2020 | Alert | By Bruce Sokler, Joseph Miller, Robert Kidwell, Shawn Skolky

This alert examines a Philadelphia US district court decision that denied the FTC’s and Pennsylvania Attorney General’s request to preliminarily enjoin a proposed merger between Thomas Jefferson University and the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network.
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Treasury Issues Final Rule Amending CFIUS Mandatory Filing Requirements

September 17, 2020 | Blog | By Robert Kidwell, Tinny Song

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In the latest decision addressing antitrust liability for FRAND commitments, Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn of the Northern District of Texas dismissed a complaint from Continental Automotive Systems, Inc. (“Continental”) alleging, inter alia, violations of §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, and declaratory judgment as to FRAND obligations against Avanci, LLC (“Avanci”) and various members of its patent pool (collectively, “Defendants”).
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DOJ to IEEE: Yes, Injunctive Relief Should Be Available for SEPs, and Stop Saying Otherwise

September 14, 2020 | Blog | By Michael Renaud, James Wodarski, Joseph Miller, Daniel Weinger, Kara E. Grogan

Last Thursday, September 10, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division (“DOJ”) issued an updated Business Review Letter (“2020 Letter”) to the Institute of Electrical Electronics Engineers, Incorporated (“IEEE”) clarifying the DOJ’s views on licensing and enforcement practices related to standard essential patents (“SEPs”).
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Read about the DOJ Antitrust Division’s new Merger Remedies Manual, its first guidance on the topic since its 2011 withdrawal of its policy guide for merger remedies.
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In a reversal that came as no surprise to many observers, on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, a unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the decision by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in FTC v. Qualcomm and vacated the district court’s worldwide, permanent injunction prohibiting several of Qualcomm Incorporated’s (“Qualcomm”) licensing practices with respect to standard-essential patents (“SEPs”) covering cellular technology.
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DOJ and the FTC Publish Vertical Merger Guidelines

July 13, 2020 | Blog | By Joseph Miller, Bruce Sokler, Robert Kidwell, Evan Moore

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On Wednesday, an FTC Commissioner used the occasion of a routine report to Congress to send a warning shot to private equity firms, especially those rolling up health care providers. Commissioner Rohit Chopra, an advisor to Senator Elizabeth Warren before he joined the Commission in May 2018, released this statement focusing particular scrutiny on private equity (PE) firms and the practice of acquiring physician groups, especially emergency medicine, anesthesiology, and other services that generate “surprise” out of network charges for otherwise insured patients.
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In a recent decision in In Re Humira (Adalimumab) Antitrust Litigation), No. 19-cv-1873, Judge Shah of the Northern District of Illinois dismissed a consolidated class action complaint filed by U.S. purchasers of AbbVie Inc.’s blockbuster biologic drug Humira alleging that AbbVie had prevented manufacturers of competing biosimilar drugs (“biosimilars”) from entering the U.S. market in violation of federal and state antitrust laws.
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