DENVER ( Associated Press) – A jury on Friday acquitted Denver-based dialysis giant DeVita Inc. and former chairman and CEO Kent Thierry of charges that they violated federal labor law by selling three competing firms from each other with some employees. Conspired not to hire him.
The Denver federal court trial was the first trial of its kind by the Department of Justice, arguing that agreements not to hire executives from each other spurred the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, an 1890 law intended to curb careers. Deprived workers of opportunities. Activity that restricts competition in the market.
Friday’s decision came after two days of deliberation. Denver Post reported,
A grand jury convicted Davita, a leading provider of kidney dialysis services, and based on three conspiracies last year. The indictment alleges that DaVita and Thiry agreed not to recruit each other’s senior executives and other staff between 2012 and 2019 with Surgical Care Associates, Hazel Health and Radiology Partners.
Davita and Thiri, supported by local and national business groups, argued that the no-solicitation agreements violated any law and that the government was applying an exaggerated, if novel, interpretation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
Thiri led Davita for two decades before stepping down as CEO in 2019.
Surgical Care Affiliates Have Similar Allegations In federal court in Texas. It denies any wrongdoing.
If found guilty, DaVita was fined a maximum of $100 million per count, while Thierry faced a $1 million fine per count and up to 10 years in prison.
Anthony Mariano, an antitrust attorney for the Justice Department, told jurors in closing arguments on Wednesday that Thiri and Davita cheated employees with job opportunities and that Thierry used threats of retaliation to prevent executives from leaving his firm. done for
“This is not the story of a CEO who wants what is best for his employees,” argued Mariano, according to the Post., “This is the story of a CEO who wanted control.”
Employees were generally not aware of the agreements, Mariano said, inadvertently missing out on opportunities to advance their careers.
“Since Kent Thierry didn’t tell them about it, they never know when they are cheated of a job opportunity,” Mariano said.
Former DaVita executives and a mid-level employee testified for the prosecution. The employee, Elliot Holder, said he didn’t take another job after being told he had to first tell his DaVita supervisor he was looking for a job.
Thierry did not testify during the hearing. His attorney, Juanita Brooks, called the Justice Department’s case a “witch hunt.”
The defense’s only witness, Pierre Cremieux, an economist specializing in anti-trust issues, testified that his analysis of executives’ compensation and turnover data showed no evidence of any compromise opportunities for employees.
DaVita attorney John Dodds argued that asking employees to notify supervisors about job searches was meant to make DaVita more competitive, not to reduce competition, for DaVita to keep those employees. Motivating to offer a raise or promotion.
“Maybe this was the wrong way to do it; That might be a messy way to do it,” Dodd said. “But the question is its purpose. That was its purpose.”