OMC responds to lawsuit

Dr. Robert Witham's lawsuit charging Olympic Medical Center with operating a monopoly should be dismissed because state and federal laws specifically exempt hospital districts from such lawsuits.

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014 4:22pm
  • News

Dr. Robert Witham’s lawsuit charging Olympic Medical Center with operating a monopoly should be dismissed because state and federal laws specifically exempt hospital districts from such lawsuits.

That’s what the hospital district’s attorney has argued in a 16-page response to Witham’s antitrust lawsuit. Witham filed the action July 8 in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

The two sides are scheduled to be in court next on Oct. 2.

Witham is suing under Section 4 of the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914. The suit also names Olympic Hospitalist Physicians P.S., which provides hospitalist services at OMC.

Hospitalists are doctors who care for inpatients in the absence of the patients’ primary physicians.

Witham’s lawsuit charges the hospital district with using "illegally obtained monopoly power" since 2004 to systemically destroy a competing physician’s medical practice.

Witham seeks not just monetary damages but an end to what Witham charges are monopolistic practices, such as informing Witham’s patients that he is not available to them. Witham says it is a conspiracy to reduce competition.

OMC’s attorneys seek partial dismissal by arguing OMC is a public hospital district under Washington law and thus has "absolute immunity" from antitrust damage claims under the Local Government Antitrust Act of 1984.

They also argue the Washington Supreme Court has "unequivocally held" that public hospital districts are not subject to the Washington Consumer Protection Act.

"Indeed, the Washington Supreme Court has specifically held that the Consumer Protection Act does not apply to public hospital districts," the hospital district’s response states.

Witham provides oncology services from his office at 224 N. Washington St., Port Angeles, one block from Olympic Medical Center. He also has physician privileges at OMC.

Witham has practiced medicine in Clallam County for 30 years and now also practices in Olympia and elsewhere in the Puget Sound area.

He is an independent investigator with the National Cancer Institute and a member of the boards of the Washington State Medical Oncology Society and Washington State Cancer Control Partnership.

Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

More in News

Clallam board of health hears good news: Potential return of students, teachers

More teachers and students may be coming back to classrooms thanks to low COVID-19 rate

Locals can see the reveal of this year’s Irrigation Festival float online at 4:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 at <a href="http://www.irrigationfestival.com" target="_blank">irrigationfestival.com</a> followed by the Kickoff Dinner and silent and live auction. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell
Irrigation Festival float reveal set for virtual event Saturday

The Sequim Irrigation Festival begins its festivities with the Kick-off Dinner and… Continue reading

Two new COVID-19 cases added in Clallam County

Clallam County added two COVID-19 cases to its total

Smoke may linger on peninsula despite rain; alert extended to noon Thursday

Wildfire smoke continues to linger on the North Olympic Peninsula

One new COVID-19 case confirmed in Clallam County

One new confirmed case of COVID-19 was discovered in Clallam County on Tuesday

PDC: Mayor did not violate state law with QAnon comments

Public Disclosure Commission finds Sequim mayor William Armacost did not violate a state law

Sequim schools to deliver meals starting this week

The Sequim School District looks to begin offering meal distribution this week

Organizers cancel Reach, Row for Hospice event

Sequim Bay Yacht Club and organizers of its Reach and Row for Hospice have cancelled the 2020 event

Temporary closure set in upper Dungeness

Forest service roads in the upper Dungeness area will be closed for two or three days, Sept. 23-26

Most Read