FTC appeal against Phoebe continues Wednesday

Oral arguments begin Wednesday in an appeal by the FTC against an earlier ruling in favor of the Phoebe-Palmyra buyout / From file

Arguments in the Federal Trade Commission's appeal against an earlier ruling in the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Palmyra Medical Center transaction will be heard on Wednesday.

The FTC is appealing a decision made by Judge Louis Sands in June that dismissed the FTC's antitrust investigation; Sands said the Phoebe-Palmyra transaction is immune from antitrust scrutiny because of the state action doctrine. He also dismissed the FTC's request for a temporary postponement of the merger.

In July, the FTC filed an appeal request, saying "The Court should reverse the district court's decision and issue a preliminary injunction requiring the merging parties to maintain the status quo during the pendency of the Commission's administrative proceedings."

Shortly after, Phoebe and the Albany-Dougherty Hospital Authority filed a brief in response.

"The Authority's action is in the best interest of the citizens, and they are carrying out their governmental responsibilities as they have for these many decades. The Authority, as a governmental entity, is not subject to FTC intervention," says Tommy Chambless, general counsel for Phoebe.

Wednesday's hearing is taking place at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.