Mediation Ahead for GE Anesthesia Machine Servicing Case
A lawsuit claiming antitrust violations with servicing agreements with General Electric Co. is headed to mediation. The lawsuit claims GE monopolizes the market for servicing of anesthesia machines.
The servicing agreements were signed by hospital plaintiffs and included dispute resolution clauses that include mediation.
According to the initial complaint, GE and its subsidiaries conspired to block all competition for servicing their gas anesthesia machines. The lawsuit was filed under the Sherman antitrust law on behalf of those who are forced to pay higher prices to get service for their machines (as opposed to the companies that were not allowed to work on the machines).
The complaint claims that independent services organizations should be eligible to compete to service the machines, but GE blocked that competition in two different ways:
1. By controlling access to parts, tools, test equipment, manuals, and specifications requires to service their machines
2. By controlling access to the training necessary to service the machines properly
In the past, GE did sell parts and training courses, but stopped doing so in April 2011 when it named Alpha Source its exclusive distributor of parts.
That company failed to keep an inventory of parts accessible to other service providers and charged high prices to those other service providers when a part was available, according to the complaint. The company is also accused of refusing to offer training courses at all but one facilities and for rejecting applications for training at that facility from other service providers.
The two sides will come together in an upcoming mediation to discuss the case.