Syringe Antitrust Lawsuit
Big Suits – Retractable v. Becton, Dickinson et al.
By Heather Smith
The American Lawyer
Retractable Technologies, Inc., may have finally found a way to puncture the syringe market. After five years of litigation, Retractable, which makes the patented VanishPoint safety syringe, settled its antitrust suit against competing syringe manufacturer Tyco Healthcare Group and the nation’s two largest hospital buying groups, Premier, Inc., and Novation, L LC, in April. The other named defendant in the suit, Becton, Dickinson and
Company, the nation’s largest syringe maker, did not settle. In the suit, Retractable claimed that Becton, Dickinson and Tyco used their exclusive supply contracts with their respective buying groups, Premier and Novation, as well as other monopolistic practices, to block Retractable from gaining a foothold in the market. The terms of the settlement are sealed.
Retractable’s VanishPoint needle protects health care providers from accidental pricks with a spring that automatically pulls the needle back into the syringe before leaving the patient’s body. The company claims that Becton, Dickinson, which has also developed a safety syringe device, has almost complete control over many segments of the market and has actively thwarted VanishPoint’s gains in the hospital market, which accounts for about 60 percent of the 6.2 billion annual syringe purchases. Becton, Dickinson insists that VanishPoint sales haven’t taken off because the syringes are overpriced.
Retractable had first sued the two syringe manufacturers along with three Texas hospitals and the Irving, Texas-based VHA Inc. hospital network, in 1998 in state district court in Brazoria County, Texas. After little activity and with eyes on nationwide damages, Retractable re-filed in federal district court in Texarkana, Texas, in January 2001. In the federal suit, Retractable dropped the local hospitals in favor of the buying groups that negotiate the contracts between the manufacturers and about two-thirds of the hospitals around the country.
Though they have settled, Tyco, Premier, and Novation (majority-owned by VHA) all still deny that there were grounds for Retractable’s claims of monopolistic practices.
Judge David Folsom has scheduled the trial in the Becton, Dickinson suit for February 2004. FOR PLAINTIFF RETRACTABLE TECHNOLOGIES, INC. (LITTLE ELM,TEXAS)
IN-HOUSE: Director of legal and legislative policy and corporate secretary Michelle Larios.
THE LANIER LAW FIRM (HOUSTON): W. Mark Lanier and associate Maura Kolb.
PATTON,TIDWELL & SCHROEDER(TEXARKANA, ARKANSAS): Nicholas Patton. O’QUINN, LAMINACK & PIRTLE (HOUSTON): John O’Quinn. GILBERT & GILBERT (ANGLETON, TEXAS): John Gilbert. The firm was involved in the state court proceedings.
MULLIN HOARD & BROWN (AMARILLO,TEXAS): Lawrence Doss and Donald Hunt. Lanier had been a student of Hunt’s at The Texas Tech University School of Law.
FOR DEFENDANT BECTON, DICKINSON AND COMPANY (FRANKLIN LAKES, NEW JERSEY)
IN-HOUSE: Vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary Bridget Healy and associate general counsel Bruce Hector. PAUL,WEISS, RIFKIND,WHARTON & GARRISON (NEW YORK): Robert Atkins, Les Fagen, Sidney Rosdeitcher, counsel Steven Herzog, and associates Melanca Clark, Christopher Giampapa, Melissa Harris, Jennifer Lyons, Catherine Montjar, Alice Ristroph, Patricia Ronan, Jacqueline Rubin, and Eric Stone. Paul, Weiss has represented Becton, Dickinson for two decades.
BECK, REDDEN & SECREST (HOUSTON): David Beck, Alistair Byrne Dawson, William Webb, and associates Matthew Morrison and Mo aherzadeh. Paul, Weiss recommended Beck, Redden to Becton, Dickinson. MERCY, CARTER,TIDWELL & ELLIOTT (TEXARKANA,TEXAS): W. David Carter.
FOR DEFENDANT NOVATION, LLC (IRVING,TEXAS)
IN-HOUSE: General counsel and secretary Gerald Rubin.
FOR DEFENDANT VHA INC. (IRVING,TEXAS)
IN-HOUSE: Senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary Marcea Lloyd.
FOR DEFENDANTS NOVATION, LLC, AND VHA INC. MAYER, BROWN, ROWE & MAW (CHICAGO): Robert Bloch, Michael Feagley, Diane Green- Kelly, Scott Perlman, Mitchell Raup, Gary Winters, and associates Jay Brown and Lisa Levine. (Bloch, Perlman, Raup, Winters, Brown, and Levine are in Washington, D.C.) Bloch is Novation’s regular outside counsel on antitrust is sues. DUNN, NUTTER & MORGAN (TEXARKANA, ARKANSAS): Winford Dunn, Jr.
FOR DEFENDANTS PREMIER, INC., AND PREMIER PURCHASING PARTNERS (SAN DIEGO)
IN-HOUSE: General counsel, senior vice president_legal affairs and insurance Jeffrey Maysent. NEAL, GERBER & EISENBERG (CHICAGO): James Gardner, Phil Neal, Ralph Russell, Jr., and associate Elizabeth Wright. Gardner has represented Premier since its inception in 1996. ATCHLEY, RUSSELL,WALDROP & HLAVINKA (TEXARKANA,TEXAS): J. Dennis Chambers and Robert Weber.
FOR DEFENDANTS TYCO INTERNATIONAL (U.S.) INC. (PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE) AND TYCO HEALTHCARE GROUP (MANSFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS)
IN-HOUSE (TYCO HEALTHCARE GROUP): Chief litigation counsel John Griffin. VINSON & ELKINS (HOUSTON): Bruce Blefeld, John Murchison, Jr., and associate John DeGeeter. YOUNG, PICKETT & LEE (TEXARKANA,TEXAS): Lance Lee and Damon Young.
For more information please contact The Lanier Law Firm.