DaVita, Kent Thiry conspiracy trial delayed by one week

A closely-watched federal criminal conspiracy trial for Denver-based DaVita Inc. and the company’s former CEO has been delayed by one week.

The trial, which had been set to begin Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, was on Saturday rescheduled to start April 4, court records show.

A reason for the delay was not immediately clear.

Denver-based DaVita, one of the country’s largest providers of kidney dialysis services, and former CEO Kent Thiry will stand trial on three counts of conspiracy in connection with allegations that DaVita and its competitors agreed not to recruit each others’ workers.

The federal trial is the first time a company or CEO has been criminally charged for so-called non-poaching agreements under the 132-year-old Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and is expected to reverberate nationally.

Prosecutors say the agreements between DaVita, Thiry and three other health care firms not to recruit DaVita’s employees limited workers’ ability to seek out higher wages, advance their careers and compete in a free marketplace.

The company has argued in court filings that such agreements are not illegal and that prosecutors are stretching federal antitrust laws to bring the conspiracy charges.

The trial is now set to begin with jury selection April 4 at 9 a.m. before Senior Judge R. Brooke Jackson.

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