Solo Doc Lacks Antitrust Standing, Says Seventh Circuit

Dr. Fisher is a solo family practitioner in Oshkosh.  He had been on the Aurora Hospital medical staff for a decade when the hospital adopted a 24/7 coverage rule requiring doctors to provide 24/7 coverage, either personally or through back-up by another staff member.  Dr. Fisher, of course, could not be personally available 24/7, and as a solo practitioner, he had no partner for back-up.  So, the hospital wouldn’t renew his staff membership.

He sued in federal court, claiming that the coverage rule was part of an antitrust conspiracy to exclude independent doctors from the hospital and that it drove independents out of the market, depriving patients of second opinions from independents.

The district court dismissed his case, ruling that he had no standing under Sherman Section 1 or 2.  On appeal, the Seventh Circuit unanimously affirmed.  In an unpublished unanimous March 11 opinion the court distinguished between being injured by an antitrust violation and having standing to sue.  Fisher v. Aurora (13-2752).

Even if Dr. Fisher was injured, the court said, he wasn’t the type of victim who has standing.  What types would have standing?  The court said that “patient-consumers, insurers, or even groups of doctors would serve as better plaintiffs,” citing Kochert v. Greater Lafayette, 463 F.3d 710 (7th Cir. 2006).  

Identifying “groups of doctors” as better plaintiffs must have been particularly galling to Dr. Fisher.  One of his theories was that groups of doctors were driving solos out of business.

Today’s post was contributed by Norman G. Tabler, Jr.

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