With a U.S. Supreme Court victory in hand, the Federal Trade Commission is moving forward with its administrative case to undo the merger of the only two hospitals in Albany.
On Feb. 19, the high court in FTC v. Phoebe Putney Health System Inc. ruled unanimously that the state action doctrine did not immunize the hospital acquisition from the federal antitrust laws.
The FTC has lifted the stay on its so-called Part 3 administrative proceeding, with a trial date set for July 15 at the latest.
"Time is of the essence because 'this is now a consummated acquisition in which significant integration of hospital assets and operationsand likely, interim harm to competitionmay have taken place,'" the FTC commissioners wrote in the March 14 order lifting the stay.
The FTC in April 2011 brought two complaints challenging the merger, one in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia and another administratively. The administrative proceeding was stayed pending resolution of the federal court litigation. The FTC in district court lost its bid for a preliminary injunction to stop the deal, and lost before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. The Supreme Court remanded the case.
Now, the FTC is pursuing its administrative hearing. The commissioners overruled objections from the hospital to lift the stay, writing "[respondents] have not indicated that they intend to file such a motionnor indeed provided any grounds for the Court's reconsideration."
The hospitals were represented by Wilmer Culter Pickering Hale and Dorr partner Seth Waxman before the Supreme Court and Baker & McKenzie; Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett; Flynn Peeler & Phillips; Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore; Baudino Law Group; Perry & Walters; and Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs before the 11th Circuit.