Holland & Knight Defends Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Against Antitrust, False Advertising Claims
MIAMI (Nov. 15, 2017) – Holland & Knight was successful in defending Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, Pediatric Specialty Group, Inc. and three individual physicians, CEO Dr. Narendra Kini, Dr. Leonard Feld and Dr. Felix Ramirez, in federal court. The defendants had been sued by a competing pediatric nephrology practice for alleged violations of the Lanham Act (false advertising) and other claims alleging antitrust violations under the Sherman Act, conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty and tortious interference.
U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro of the Southern District of Florida issued an order on Nov. 13 granting summary judgment on the Lanham Act claim, which complained about a job posting by the hospital and Pediatric Specialty Group to recruit new pediatric nephrologists. Judge Ungaro ruled that it was unlikely that patients were deceived by false advertising because there was no evidence that they saw the allegedly false posting. There was also no evidence that physicians who saw the posting were referral sources or were deceived by the posting. Furthermore, the court noted that the plaintiffs had presented no argument or evidence that the purchasing decisions of any patient or referral source were affected by the job posting.
The plaintiffs had earlier voluntarily dropped their Sherman Act antitrust claims because they had no evidence that the defendants conspired to divert patient referrals.
After ruling in favor of the defendants on the federal Lanham Act claim, the court then declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiffs’ remaining state law claims and closed the case. The court previously granted the defendants’ motion to strike the plaintiffs’ proposed expert the week before. The case had been scheduled for trial in December 2017.
The Holland & Knight team representing the defendants consisted of lawyers from the firm’s Jacksonville and Tallahassee offices and was led by Partners Jerome Hoffman, Donny MacKenzie, Kevin Cox and Mia McKown. They were assisted by Associates Laura Renstrom, Tiffany Roddenberry and Michael Gropper.