Dialysis health company DaVita, former CEO Kent Thiry found not guilty in federal antitrust case

California Kidney Dialysis
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
In this photo taken Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, Adrian Perez undergoes dialysis at a DaVita Kidney Care clinic in Sacramento, California.

A federal jury found DaVita and its former CEO Kent Thiry not guilty on charges of violating U.S. antitrust laws.

The verdict, delivered Friday, followed roughly two weeks of testimony. Last year, the government charged the Denver-based dialysis provider and Thiry with colluding with competitors to suppress competition by agreeing to not recruit each other’s executives.

“We appreciate the jury’s unanimous decision and are grateful to put this matter behind us. We remain committed to operating with integrity and upholding the highest standards of law,” DaVita said in an e-mailed statement.

The case was considered a high-stakes test of the government’s ability to criminally prosecute entities for entering into agreements not to solicit another company’s employees. DaVita and Thiry were indicted on charges of criminal conspiracy under the 132-year-old Sherman Antitrust Act.

DaVita faced a maximum penalty of a $100 million fine per count. Thiry faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine per count.

Davita moved its headquarters from El Segundo, California, to Denver in 2009. The company has a major presence in the Union Station area of Lower Downtown, and Thiry has become a prominent player in local and state politics.

The company has 55,000 U.S. employees and works in 10 other nations, providing dialysis services to hundreds of thousands of patients. 

This was not DaVita’s first brush with the law. The company paid nearly $1 billion in civil penalties to settle whistleblower complaints related to overcharging Medicare or paying kickbacks to doctors starting in 2012. The company did not acknowledge wrongdoing in those cases. 

CPR News reporter John Daley contributed to this report.