Plaintiffs Seek Consolidation of Class Actions Alleging Antitrust Violations Against Surgical Care Affiliates, Others

The plaintiffs in three proposed class actions against the same defendants — Surgical Care Affiliates LLC (SCA), SCAI Holdings LLC, UnitedHealth Group Inc., and other unidentified entities — filed an amended joint motion Wednesday in the Northern District of Illinois to consolidate their actions, all of which alleged that the defendants worked in concert to control the labor market through “no-poach” agreements that lowered employee wages and violated antitrust laws.

Rhonda Roe, Steven Smith (both pseudonyms), and Scott Keech each filed their original class-action complaints seeking to represent senior-level employees in the relevant health care job market who they believe have been harmed by the defendants’ alleged conduct, supporting their cases with allegations brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in a Jan. 7 criminal indictment against SCA and SCAI Holdings that claimed that the two companies and other unknown co-conspirators competing in the same market entered into agreements not to solicit each other’s senior level employees, thus suppressing competition and wages.

Law Street Media reported March 10 on a complaint by Allen Spradling that brought similar allegations against the above defendants, plus the former SCA president and three other affiliated entities; the move to consolidate could not yet include Spradling’s suit because counsel for the additional defendants in his case have not yet made appearances, the motion said.

The motion argued for consolidation pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a), which allows consolidation of cases that present overlapping claims against overlapping defendants. Each plaintiff, the motion contended, relied on the same allegations from the DOJ indictment; sought to represent nearly identical classes; claimed that senior-level employees’ pay was suppressed as a result of the alleged conspiracy; and that the defendants concealed the purported conduct from the proposed class members.

The plaintiffs additionally argued in favor of consolidation for the sake of efficiency and avoiding duplicative cases that would “waste judicial resources,” simultaneously requesting to appoint interim co-lead counsel to further streamline proceedings, proposing Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein LLP, Nussbaum Law Group P.C., Roberts Law Firm US P.C., and Joseph Saveri Law Firm Inc. as counsel for the potential consolidated case.

Mason Lietz & Klinger LLP is representing Roe and Smith. Smith also is represented by Scharf Banks Marmor LLC, Fine, Kaplan and Black R.P.C., and Kohn, Swift & Graf P.C. The Bellows Law Group P.C., Turke & Strauss LLP, and Paronich Law P.C. are representing Keech. Keller Lenkner LLC, Joseph Saveri Law Firm, and Freed Kanner London & Millen LLC are representing Spradling.