DaVita, former CEO indicted for “no-poaching” agreements with competitors

DaVita is based in downtown Denver, operating over 500,000 square feet in two buildings at the base of the Millennium Bridge near Union Station. (Eric Heinz photo)

Denver-based dialysis provider DaVita and former CEO Kent Thiry have been indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of conspiring with competitors not to hire certain key employees from each other .

The indictment alleges that the company and Thiry violated federal Sherman Antitrust law by participating in two separate plots to suppress competition for the services of certain employees.

“Those who conspire to deprive workers of free market opportunities and mobility are committing serious crimes which we will prosecute with all the force of the law,” said Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Antitrust Division of the Ministry of Justice in a press release. “We are grateful for our partnership with the FBI and our shared commitment to eliminating illegal collusion targeting labor markets. “

DaVita said in her own statement that the charges “are unfair and unwarranted”.

“The government’s case hinges on an unprecedented and untested application of antitrust laws to alleged discussions involving a former executive that took place many years ago,” the company said. “We will vigorously defend the company against this unwarranted action. The evidence will show that the government chose to unfairly attack our reputation. “

The first count alleges that DaVita conspired with Illinois-based surgical care subsidiaries and a related entity from February 2012 until July 2017. This company was already indicted in January.

Among other evidence, the indictment cites an email Thiry allegedly sent to an SCA official in October 2014, which read: “Someone called me to suggest contacting your lead developer for our spot. corresponding. I explained that I do not do proactive recruiting in your ranks.

The indictment also states that a SCA official emailed a consultant in April 2017, saying: “In order to prosecute [candidate], he should have already communicated that he is considering leaving DaVita – this is the relationship we have with DaVita.

The second count alleges that DaVita conspired with another San Francisco-based company, which is not named in the indictment, from April 2017 to June 2019.

The indictment quotes an email that an official of this company allegedly sent to Thiry in April 2017: I will come back to you and speak before I approach a point that might be contemplating someone else. .

DaVita and Thiry are scheduled to appear in Denver Federal District Court on July 20 before US Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix.

Thiry also denied the allegations.

“The government has taken steps to ignore – and even hide – key evidence,” a representative said in a statement. “The facts confirm it decisively: No violation of antitrust laws has taken place, these companies have hired DaVita executives for years and the companies are not competitors. “

If convicted, DaVita faces a maximum fine of $ 100 million per count, and Thiry faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $ 1 million per count, according to the Ministry of Justice. Justice.

Thiry was appointed CEO of what was then known as Total Renal Care in October 1999. The company changed to its current name a year later and moved its headquarters from Southern California to Denver in 2009.

Thiry stepped down as CEO of DaVita in the spring of 2019. He continued to chair the board of directors, but resigned this post last year, according to his LinkedIn profile.

DaVita is one of the largest users of office space in downtown Denver, according to a previous report, operating over 500,000 square feet in two buildings at the base of the Millennium Bridge near Union Station. She owns one of the buildings at 2000 16th St. The company is now run by Javier J. Rodriguez.