Paul L. Caron

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Duke Pays $54.5 Million To Settle Class Action Alleging Non-Poaching Agreement With UNC Stifled Lateral Faculty Moves

Duke UNCFollowing up on my previous posts:

Wall Street Journal, Duke University Moves to Settle No-Poach Case for $54.5 Million:

Duke and the University of North Carolina are fierce competitors on the basketball court, but when it comes to medical hiring, they have been cozy collaborators, according to a class action that Duke moved to settle Monday for $54.5 million.

The lawsuit, filed in 2015, alleges the rivals agreed not to hire each other’s medical faculty in certain circumstances.

The lead plaintiff, Duke radiology professor Danielle Seaman, contacted UNC about the possibility of becoming a thoracic radiologist there.  A UNC official allegedly responded that such a job switch wasn’t possible because Duke and UNC had agreed not to poach each other’s medical faculty for positions that would be a lateral move between the two institutions, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit sought to cover a class of more than 5,000 potentially affected faculty members.

settled the allegations last year in a court-approved deal in which the university agreed not to enter into no-poach deals with other employers. The university also agreed to assist Dr. Seaman in her case against Duke. It didn’t admit wrongdoing., Duke Pays $54.5M to Settle 'No Poach' Class Action After DOJ Intervenes:

In what could be the first settlement of its kind, Duke University has agreed to pay $54.5 million to resolve a class action over an alleged illegal employee-poaching agreement with the University of North Carolina after the U.S. Department of Justice intervened in the antitrust case.

The proposed settlement, filed Monday, comes the same day that the DOJ filed a motion to intervene in the class action in order to enforce injunctive relief that would prohibit Duke and UNC from signing “no-poach” employee agreements during the next five years. The case is one of several in which the DOJ has filed statements of interest seeking to clarify the standard of review that judges should use in evaluating whether an agreement violates the federal antitrust law, the Sherman Antitrust Act. ...

Gregg Levy, a partner at Covington & Burling in Washington D.C., and Brent Powell, of Womble Bond Dickinson, who represented Duke in the case, did not respond to a request for comment. But Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations at Duke, said in a statement that Duke denied the allegations and was settling to “avoid the wasteful cost and inconvenience of prolonged litigation.”

“We will continue to vigorously compete for the best faculty who will help fulfill these missions,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “The university is and has been committed to complying with all relevant laws in recruiting the most talented physicians, scientists and scholars. Our agreement with plaintiffs and the Department of Justice to implement certain compliance measures affirms that commitment.” ...

Danielle Seaman, an assistant professor of radiology at Duke University School of Medicine, filed the class action in 2015. She alleged that, when she contacted the UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine in 2015 to inquire about a position in its Radiology Department, the person in charge wrote an email back to her saying, “lateral moves of faculty between Duke and UNC are not permitted” due to an agreement “between the deans of UNC and Duke a few years back.”

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