Federal judge dismisses lawsuit alleging Ohio health system's orthopedic monopoly


A federal judge dismissed a 2023 antitrust lawsuit alleging Adena Health System's monopolization of orthopedic care, ruling the surgeons bringing the lawsuit did not prove tangible harm to competition.

On July 5, 2023, Brian Cohen, MD; Aaron Roberts, MD, and James Thompson, DO, filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Southern District Court alleging antitrust actions from Chillicothe, Ohio-based Adena. Some of the moves the lawsuit pointed to include buying Washington Court House, Ohio-based Fayette Memorial Hospital, leasing a building to prevent OhioHealth from doing so, enforcing noncompete clauses and requiring physicians to refer patients only to other Adena physicians in most cases.

The lawsuit alleged that Adena stifled competition in the area and affected the quality of orthopedic care. But the April 25 opinion states that the physicians didn't provide sufficient evidence related to the alleged reduction of competition. The suing physicians also resumed their work in the area after their one-year noncompete clause expired. 

The judge's opinion said the court "finds that no amendment to the Complaint could cure this failure because the insufficiency lies not in the specific claims but in the nature of the alleged harm."

A spokesperson for Adena Health said in a statement that the system is "pleased, but not surprised" by the dismissal.

"This is the second time the doctors' antitrust claims against Adena have been dismissed. Antitrust claims asserted by these same doctors were dismissed by the Ross County Court of Common Pleas in October 2022," the April 30 statement said.

Dr. Cohen didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Becker's.

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