Federal Judge Louis Sands could take as long as two weeks to decide whether to dismiss the FTC's complaint against the Albany Dougherty Hospital Authority or invoke a preliminary injunction and allow the case to move forward.
The temporary injunction remains in place until the decision is reached. More than a dozen attorneys for the Hospital Authority, Phoebe Putney Health System, the Hospital, and HCA argued this morning that the case has no merit coming before Judge Louis Sands.
They claim state action allows both the Hospital Authority and the Health System to function as one entity and covers both in initiating the agreement to buy Palmyra Medical Center from HCA. They cite several rulings in the 11th circuit court of appeals, but the FTC claims this case is different than the case with Lee County, Florida.
"A hospital authority is an instrumentality of the state government as such it is exempt from the anti-trust laws which do not apply to it, there fore the Federal Trade commission as the 11th circuit has withheld has no jurisdiction either in this court or in the Federal trade Administration in Washington," said Emmet Bondurant, Albany Dougherty Hospital Authority Attorney.
"This transaction was planned for by Phoebe Putney, conceived of negotiated by Phoebe Putney and its to benefit Phoebe Putney and so the Hospital Authority Phoebe Putney used the Hospital Authority as a rubber stamp and had them wave their magic wand of state action over it and they want say it's an act of the state. This transaction is going to harm the consumers of Dougherty County," said Ted Hassi, FTC Attorney.
If Judge Sands finds the case has some merit, they're asking him to involve a preliminary injunction to keep the deal from going forward until the FTC can hold a Merit hearing in Washington scheduled fro September 19. The FTC says then the Hospital Authority would have to prove how this deal benefits consumers.
The FTC claims the deal only benefits Phoebe Putney Health System and isn't in the public interest. In court, attorneys for the Hospital Authority said if the preliminary injunction is granted, the deal will likely die, because neither side is willing to wait.
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