Iowa surgeon sues 21-location clinic for alleged antitrust, monopolistic behavior

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An ophthalmologist has sued an Iowa eye clinic that he previously had ownership in and three of its physician-owners alleging  antitrust violations and monopolistic business practices, Iowa Capital Dispatch reported Oct. 7.

George Par, MD, accuses Iowa City-based Wolfe Eye Clinic and Jared Nielsen, MD,  Kyle Alliman, MD, and David Saggau, MD, of anticompetitive and exclusionary practices to ensure the practice "maintains a monopoly" in Des Moines, Fort Dodge and Spencer, the report stated.

Dr. Par alleges that when he became a potential competitor, Wolfe Eye Clinic tried to defame him, shut off referrals from other physicians and prevent his patients from seeing him. In the lawsuit, Wolfe Eye Clinic is also accused of opening optometry clinics in Iowa communities to refer lucrative surgeries to its own surgeons.

According to its website, Wolfe Eye Clinic has more than 400 staff across 21 locations.

The clinic's alleged anticompetitive behavior also included instructing staff to tell patients that they did not know about Dr. Par's whereabouts and the dissemination of false information that suggested the surgeon was in some professional trouble, the lawsuit states.

Because of a contractual agreement between Dr. Par and Wolfe Eye Clinic, some of the surgeon's claims are not publicly disclosed. The suit includes 13 counts of alleged wrongdoing, some of which are redacted.

Publicly disclosed allegations include monopolization, defamation, civil conspiracy and interference with business relationships.

A spokesperson for Wolfe Eye Clinic provided the following statement to Becker's:

"We are surprised to learn that our former colleague, Dr. Par, has filed a lawsuit in federal court. We believe the allegations are meritless, and we look forward to aggressively defending our colleagues and organization. As a pioneer in the field, Wolfe Eye Clinic has earned a strong reputation for providing exceptional eye care to thousands of patients for over a century. We take pride in our size, scope of services and strong relationships with providers across the state which allows us to partner with patients for all of their medical eye care and surgical needs. We look forward to resolving this through the proper legal channels. It would be inappropriate to provide any additional comments or details until this matter is resolved in court."

 

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