Apr 5, 2022 - News

Groundbreaking criminal trial of Kent Thiry and DaVita takes off

Kent Thiry. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A first-of-its-kind criminal conspiracy trial centered on Denver-based DaVita Inc., and its former CEO Kent Thiry is underway in federal court.

Why it matters: The verdict will hold major ramifications in Colorado because of Thiry's prominent ties to political leaders.

  • The case also marks the first time in U.S. history that jurors will decide whether corporations can collude to prevent recruiting each other's employees.

What's new: In opening arguments Monday, federal prosecutors told jurors the case is "about a corporate CEO who wanted control over his employees," BusinessDen reports. Thiry "called DaVita a village and he didn’t like it when employees left the village," said Megan Lewis, a prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice.

  • The defense said the case is "all about business collaboration, and had nothing to do with market allocation," DaVita attorney John Dodds said. It was "just good sense" for DaVita and Thiry to "agree to some ground rules" with three competitors.

Catch up quick: A federal grand jury indicted Thiry and DaVita, a dialysis provider, in July on two charges of labor market collusion.

  • Thiry served as CEO for 20 years through 2019 and departed as executive chairman in June 2020. He's now a consultant for investment firm KKR.

Flashback: Gov. Jared Polis awarded Thiry the governor's citizenship medal for innovation last year, calling him one of Colorado's most successful executives and "a force of nature."

  • As a longtime political player, who mulled a run for governor himself, he's also received praise from Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper.

The big picture: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is concerned Thiry's case will set a precedent, while others suggest it's an example of the Biden administration's antitrust crackdown.


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