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Seven Things To Know When You Receive A Notice Of Investigation From The Department Of Health

Antitrust and Trade Regulation

Antitrust law covers the area of law dealing with anticompetitive conduct, restraints on trade and business and unfair marketing activities by businesses or individuals. The thrust of antitrust law is to protect the competitive system of trade and business so that the free market will result in lower costs, higher quality and cause new products and services to be introduced. The primary federal antitrust laws are the Sherman Act, the Clayton Act, Robinson-Patman Amendments to the Clayton Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act. In addition, there are parallel state statutes. Generally, the practices that the antitrust laws are concerned with involve, but are not limited to: price fixing, limitations on production, artificial division of markets, boycotts, attempts to monopolize and monopolization, tying of products, covenants to restraint trade, exclusive dealing contracts, price discrimination, and other exclusionary, predatory, or economically discriminatory activities. “Trade Regulation law” covers the substantive area of law dealing with deceptive, unfair, or unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair methods of competition under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act and Florida’ s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA).

Usually covenants not to compete (sometimes called restrictive covenants or noncompetition agreements) are included under this area of law. The Health Law Firm has a great deal of experience in representing health care providers on issues concerning noncompetition agreements. Please see the separate description of this area for more details.

The FTC and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have jointly published specific guidelines that apply to joint ventures in the health care industry. Physicians and others in the health industry must ensure that their proposed business ventures do not violate the antitrust laws and guidelines.

The Health Law Firm has attorneys who practice in the area of antitrust law and trade regulation. We have defended a hospital in federal court against allegations of violations of the antitrust laws, we routinely provide advice and opinion letters on antitrust and trade regulation matters, we have represented plaintiffs in law suits alleging anticompetitive behavior and violations of state and federal antitrust laws, we have given opinions on and been involved in litigation concerning the Lanham Act and the Robinson-Patman Amendments, and we routinely undertake litigation concerning restrictive covenants.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide advice and representation concerning antitrust law, trade regulation, restraint of trade issues, and regarding deceptive and unfair trade practices. We routinely provide advice and analysis of proposed business ventures that include the foregoing. We have represented both plaintiffs and defendants in state court litigation and in federal court litigation in such matters.

For information on our practice in litigation involving restrictive covenants (covenants not to compete), click here: (Note: link to other area on restrictive covenants). For a brief article called “Seven Points Regarding Enforcement of Covenants not to Compete in Florida,” which Mr. Indest delivered to the Orange County Medical Society, click here.

For a copy of a complaint (lawsuit) in which we represented a medical group suing a health maintenance organization (HMO) in state court for causes of action that included violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) and the Florida Racketeering Influenced Criminal Organizations (RICO) Act, click here. For a Memorandum of Law we prepared and filed in the same case, discussing the legal authority supporting such causes of action, click here. For a copy of the Judge’s decision in the same case which upheld the causes of action pleaded in the complaint, click here (PDF).

For a copy of a court decision in which we represented a physician/employee in defending against the enforcement of a restrictive covenant, click here (PDF).

For a summary of several prominent cases from federal courts throughout the nation in cases in which physicians sued hospitals and medical staffs for adverse peer review action taken against the physician (from a talk given by Mr. Indest to the Orange County Medical Society), click here.

For an article on entitled “Antitrust and Regulatory Issues Arising from the Formation and Operation of Provider Networks” written by Mr. Indest and published by The Florida Bar, click here.