Health First Lawsuit Set for Summer Trial

Jan 26, 2015

A massive anti-trust lawsuit against Brevard County's Health First hospital system could go to trial as soon as this summer, on charges it has a ‘vertical monopoly’ on health care.

Credit Health First

Health First officials weren’t available to discuss the lawsuit Friday, but the hospital will likely lay out its defense in court filings in the next 30 days. After that, both sides produce evidence. And in July, a possible jury trial.

Plaintiff’s attorney Joe Whatley said what makes this case unique is that the hospital not only owns the health care facilities and the doctor practices, it owns the dominant insurance company too.

“It would be a vast understatement to say they have a finger in every pie,” Whatley said. “They have a whole big part of every pie.”

The plaintiffs are seeking more than $100 million in damages, and also want the courts to undo the hospital’s purchase of MIMA, the area’s largest doctor group.

Abe Aboraya is a reporter with WMFE in Orlando. WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.