For Immediate Release
A.G. OBTAINS CONSENT DECREE TO ENHANCE COMPETITION IN MEDICAL WASTE INDUSTRY
The way has been cleared to increase competition for the medical waste disposal industry in Utah. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced today that two medical waste disposal companies will pay $830,000 and change their practices to settle an antitrust lawsuit.
The federal lawsuit alleges that Stericycle, Inc. and BFI Waste Systems of North America, Inc. illegally agreed to divide territories and exchange customers so they would not compete against each other in Utah, Arizona and Colorado.
"The companies eliminated choices and in some instances raised prices to hospitals, research institutions and medical offices," said Shurtleff. "Consumers and taxpayers will benefit from this settlement because it will help make sure government agencies and medical offices get better service and lower prices."
The lawsuit alleges that in November 1997, Stericycle and BFI agreed to exchange customers, equipment and employees so that Stericycle would be the primary provider of medical waste disposal in Arizona. BFI then became the main provider in Utah and Colorado. Both companies also promised not to solicit existing or new customers in the territory of the other for five years.
More than four thousand customers had their medical waste disposal services involuntarily transferred to the other company and lost the ability to use the other company. The lawsuit alleges that this agreement was an illegal restraint of trade and that the defendants monopolized the medical waste disposal market. Assistant Attorney General Wayne Klein negotiated the settlement for the state that includes the following terms:
- Stericycle will pay a civil penalty of $580,000. BFI will pay $150,000 in investigative costs and an additional $100,000 contribution to fund increased competition in the medical waste disposal industry.
- The defendants will not have future unlawful agreements to exchange customers or allocate exclusive territories.
- Stericycle agrees to make it easier for Utah customers to choose alternative disposal companies by limiting the use of long-term contracts and eliminating exclusive disposal contracts. Stericycle will also permit other medical waste haulers to use its incinerator in Utah.
Stericycle, based in Deerfield, Illinois, is the largest medical waste disposal company in the U.S. The company agrees to the settlement without admitting or denying any violations. BFI, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is no longer in the medical waste business. BFI also agrees to the settlement and denies violating the antitrust laws.