A New York federal judge in a ruling released Wednesday refused to dismiss a proposed class action accusing dental supply distributors of a vast price-fixing conspiracy, concluding that allegations of collusion and threats have enough bite for the time being.
The ruling from U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan marks an early triumph for dentists who this year filed now-consolidated suits accusing three dominant distributors — Patterson Cos. Inc., Henry Schein Inc. and Benco Dental Supply Co. Inc. — of artificially inflating prices on X-ray accessories, adhesives, numbing agents and hundreds of other dental products.
According to a complaint, the distributors concocted a blatantly illicit scheme that included fixed profit margins and prices, agreements not to poach employees from one another and coercion of entities that did business with lower-cost distributors. Judge Cogan voiced doubts about some aspects of the case, but he ultimately deemed its accusations polished enough to avoid dismissal.
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