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Nurses Get Payout in Antitrust Case

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Washington, DCNurses' wages usually top the list of expenses at hospitals—and attorney Dan Small, from the prestigious and well-known law firm of Cohen, Millstein, Sellers & Toll, says he is not surprised to see hospitals engage in an antitrust-type conspiracy to control costs.

"Hospitals are all looking for ways to keep down their labor costs," says Small from his office in Washington, D.C., "and there is a nation-wide shortage of nurses so the pressure to increase wages is substantial."

Nurses at the Albany Medical Centre in Upstate New York will receive $4.5 million from the Albany Medical Center—one of the defendants in a national antitrust class action that alleged the hospital, together with others in the area, conspired to keep nurses' wages lower than the national average in an effort to reduce costs.

Although a confidential order prevents Small from discussing details, he would say there was sufficient evidence introduced to prove to the judge that there was a significant conspiracy.

"We got documents from the hospital, we got documents from third parties and we took depositions from the hospital employees," says Small.

The firm also did an intensive pretrial investigation. "We also had a couple of experts analyze the case and the combination of those sources of information was sufficient to show that we could prove a conspiracy."

Small obtained similar payouts for nurses at four other hospitals in the area. They received settlements equal to approximately two percent of their pay from 2002 to 2006.

"They are similar conspiracies," says Small. "But separate cases."

Small is also working on several other similar suits involving nurses in other parts of the US.

Dan Small is the chair of the Cohen Milstein's antitrust practice group and has been a partner at the firm for 14 years. He has successfully represented plaintiff classes in numerous antitrust suits and has won many multi-million dollar litigations.


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