Arguments begin in high-profile radiology antitrust trial

The trial for a much anticipated antitrust case brought against Alliance Radiology by former employee and prominent radiologist Mark Idstrom began last week in Johnson County District Court, reports KCUR in Kansas City.

Idstrom, who was terminated by Alliance in 2012 for what the company claims was declining performance, alleges he was fired without cause and that exclusive contracts between his former employer and local hospitals have kept him from out of a job since his termination.

The suit alleges that Alliance exists as an umbrella group of independently operated radiology practices with distinct territories, financial risks and profits operating in unison to reap higher reimbursement rates from insurance companies and hospitals. Idstrom claims Alliance is in violation of the Kansas Restraint Trade Act, which prohibits agreements or trusts by “two or more persons” to prevent competition, and that Alliance and its board members continue to orchestrate illegal conspiracy tactics, according to the KCUR report.

On the opposing side, Alliance maintains its status as a single entity with non-autonomous divisions, according to court documents, and that those divisions do not exist legally in any form other than as part of a single corporation. For those reasons, it cannot be considered a combination of “two or more persons” under the law, the company argues.

“It is a fundamental principal (sic) of Kansas conspiracy law that a corporation cannot conspire with itself,” Alliance stated in documents filed with the court.

The case, which is expected to last two weeks, could have ramifications for the way radiology groups organize and operate within the competitive healthcare marketplace. Idstrom is said to be seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.