Judge dismisses FTC lawsuit against Phoebe

U.S. District Court Judge Louis Sands ruled on Monday that the Albany-Dougherty Hospital Authority and Phoebe Putney is immune from the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust scrutiny. Therefore, the Hospital Authority's motion to dismiss the injunction that postponed the merger of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Palmyra Medical Center was granted.

In a 40-page document outlining his reasoning, Sands says, "The Court holds that the Authority is immune from antitrust scrutiny in the current case. The Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County's Motion to Dismiss is therefore granted."

Sands continues and says, "So long as the Authority determines that the proposed transaction will continually fulfill the Authority's mission to promote public health needs of the community and allow it to retain public control of Palmyra as is contemplated by the Hospital Authorities Law -- which it has done here ... the Authority may collaborate with private parties such as Phoebe Putney to execute the proposed transaction, without being subject to antitrust liability."

Phoebe released the following statement about the decision:

"In a well reasoned and well documented order, Federal Judge Louis Sands has affirmed our position. He has ruled that the FTC does not have jurisdiction in this case and that the Hospital Authority of Albany and Dougherty County is immune from federal anti-trust liability. His order dismisses the case and dissolves the temporary injunction that prevented us and HCA from moving forward with our consolidation plans."

Phoebe plans to buy Palmyra for $195 million dollars.

FOX 31's Romney Smith contributed to this story.