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Mark Idstrom, MD, a Kansas City–area radiologist who filed a lawsuit last year accusing his former partners of illegally fixing prices, has amended his claim to also accuse them of conspiring to kick him out of the practice so they could make more money in a proposed merger.

Dr. Idstrom was a partner at Alliance Radiology PA, which the Kansas City Business Journal, reporting on the case, described as a “supergroup” of 47 radiologists organized into four divisions: Carondelet, Liberty, Midwest, and Shawnee Mission. It was founded in 1998. According to the Journal:

He alleges that Alliance allocated the Kansas City market through exclusive contracts with hospitals, preventing full and fair competition for radiology services, in violation of the Kansas Restraint of Trade Act.

Alliance, Dr. Idstrom says, controls “well over 50 percent of the market.” His lawsuit claims that because of the group’s illegal price-fixing, insurers paid 40 percent more than they should have for radiology services.

Dr. Idstrom joined the group in 2005 and later became president of what was then the St. Luke’s division. He said he spoke out strongly against Alliance’s marketplace-allocation practices. He said his incentive compensation dropped by a third—$150,000—after the other three divisions blocked his unit from renewing a contract with St. Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City. Alliance also stopped his unit from going after other business that was reserved for other segments of the group, he says.

Last week, a Johnson County District Court judge in Kansas allowed Dr. Idstrom to add a new allegation to his claim: that his partners secretly conspired to oust him from the practice just before a planned merger between Alliance’s Midwest division and Virtual Radiologic, based in Minnesota. The merger never happened, but Dr. Idstrom was terminated in February 2012.

Alliance has responded to the lawsuit with several defenses. It says, among other things, that:

  • Dr. Idstrom has no standing to bring a claim under the Restraint of Trade Act because he was a supplier, not a consumer, of radiology services.
  • Dr. Idstrom’s division could have left Alliance to pursue any blocked deals.
  • Alliance could not have committed antitrust violations because it’s impossible for a company to conspire with itself.

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