Jury acquits DaVita, ex-CEO on charges of collusion regarding staff hiring
A federal grand jury on April 15 acquitted DaVita Inc. and its former CEO Kent Thiry of three counts of conspiracy based on coordinating agreements Thiry and the company arranged with three other companies not to solicit certain employees.
“We appreciate the jury’s unanimous decision and are grateful to put this matter behind us,” according to a company statement provided by DaVita. “We remain committed to operating with integrity and upholding the highest standards of law.”
The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division announced the indictments in July 2021. “These charges show a disturbing pattern of behavior among health care company executives to conspire to limit the opportunities of workers,” Steven M. D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the Washington Field Office of the FBI, said at the time. “The FBI is dedicated to working with our partners to hold those accountable who would engage in labor market collusion to the detriment of their employees.”
In a statement, DaVita said the charges against the company “are unjust and unwarranted.
“The government’s case relies on an unprecedented and untested application of the antitrust laws to alleged discussions involving former executives that occurred many years ago. We will vigorously defend the company against this unjustified action. The evidence will demonstrate the government has chosen to unjustly attack our reputation.”
Prosecutors argued the agreements between DaVita, Surgical Care Affiliates LLC and two other companies to not allow poaching of each other’s employees was a violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The timelines of the agreements varied but spanned from February 2012 until June 2019.
If convicted, DaVita would have faced a maximum penalty of $100 million per count, while Thiry faced up to a $1 million fine per count and up to 10 years in prison.
In his own statement, Thiry — who stepped down as CEO of DaVita in 2019 — said, “The jury affirmed that this case should never have been brought. I want to thank the community that provided so much support through this difficult time," Thiry said in a statement provided to Healio.