California Hospital Is Against Virtual Trial In Antitrust Suit

California-based Sutter Health is resisting a bid from plaintiffs’ lawyers to hold a virtual trial next month in a US$400 million antitrust class action, arguing that such a proceeding would be “unauthorized” and “unfair,” reported Reuters.

In a court filing on Tuesday, January 11, Sutter Health’s attorneys at Jones Day said a remote trial, where witnesses testify via video, “would lack the fundamental elements that have long been regarded as critical to our jury system.” The complaint, pending since 2012 in San Francisco federal court, accused Sacramento-based Sutter of coercive conduct to maintain a monopoly on medical services, a claim the health system denies.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, judges have confronted new and challenging hurdles to keep cases moving, and video capabilities were swiftly embraced as one measure.

In-person trials resumed in many courts last year, but judges are returning to remote hearings amid the new surge in coronavirus infections driven by the Omicron variant. Trials in California’s Northern District court are on hold at least through January 26. A Kansas federal judge on Wednesday pushed a major antitrust trial against Mylan NV to February 22.

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