Boy howdy, those judges in the Tenth Circuit sure do know their antitrust! Yeeeeehiiiii!
That court mystified Blawgletter earlier this year in a like case. See "Authentic Ski Resort Gibberish; Tenth Circuit Boots Antitrust Claim".
The new ruling surprises us less, for it draws on verbal hijinks the Supreme Court performed a mere seven days after the ski resort decision came out. See "Squeeze This! — Supremes Find No "Antitrust Duty" Not to Thwart Dependent Competitor".
In Four Corners Nephrology Assocs., P.C. v. Mercy Medical Center of Durango, No. 08-1231 (10th Cir. Sept. 29, 2009), a Unanimous Panel held that a nephrologist — a kidney specialist — couldn't prove two pieces of his antitrust claim against a hospital. The doctor alleged that a Four Corners medical center – which we infer faced zero competition in the area – monopolized the local nephrology market by refusing to let him practice his medicine within its walls. The claim failed, the court held, both because the dominant medical supplier had "no antitrust duty to share its facilities" and because the plaintiff suffered no "antitrust injury".
The second point would've done the case in by itself and strikes us as sound. Dr. Bevan didn't want to compete so much as to get his piece of the Mercy nephrology monopoly.
But the first point — about "no antitrust duty" — looks troubling to us. As we said when the Supremes decided linkLine on February 25:
Blawgletter suspects that the tag line for linkLine will come in a neat three-word package: "no antitrust duty", a phrase that doesn't appear in Trinko or any other Court decision. No duty to do this, no duty to do that. And we imagine that The Current Majority will not decide a single case in which they conclude that a section 2 defendant violated any "antitrust duty" whatever.
The Tenth Circuit don't deserve blame for parroting the linkLine "no antitrust duty" formula — just for doing it unnecessarily.