The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendants in the antitrust matter, Saskia V. W. Hilton v. Children’s Hospital San Diego, et al. Dr. Michael C. Keeley, a senior vice president of Cornerstone Research, was retained by Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, counsel for the defendants, to evaluate the plaintiff’s antitrust claims from an economic perspective and to assess the validity of the analysis put forward by the plaintiff’s economist. The plaintiff, a pediatric radiologist, alleged violations of Sections I and II of the Sherman Act, claiming that the defendants had engaged in a horizontal market division agreement and that one of the defendants had also unilaterally refused to deal with her.
Dr. Keeley demonstrated that the defendants had no incentive to engage in collusive behavior because they had conflicting interests and had no ability to affect market prices because they faced competition from many other healthcare providers. Dr. Keeley also showed that the alleged exclusionary conduct could not have led to antitrust injury because hypothetically denying the plaintiff privileges to practice at a single hospital could not have harmed market competition or adversely affected the prices paid or the quality of care received by the ultimate consumers—the patients.
The United States District Court for the Southern District of California granted summary judgment to defendants on all antitrust claims finding that “[b]ecause of the absence of evidence of an antitrust injury, summary judgment in defendant’s favor is required.” On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed that ruling, holding that “[t]he defendants met their initial burden of raising lack of antitrust injury as a basis for granting summary judgment in their favor” and that the plaintiff had “…not produced evidence that would create a genuine issue of material fact on the question of antitrust injury.”