Petitions to reopen and modify orders: The FTC has granted the petition from the following entity seeking changes in an FTC order.
In a dissenting statement that is attached to each of the orders issued by the Commission, Commissioner Swindle said that he agreed with his colleagues that the Commission should substitute a prior notification requirement for the prior approval provision in each order, but disagreed with the Commission's decision to lengthen the traditional "second" notification period from 20 to 30 days. "In the present matters," said Commissioner Swindle, "the Commission has chosen to lengthen the second period in each of these orders to 30 days. I disagree with the decision to impose on Columbia/HCA a greater burden than other respondents have borne, and to do so for reasons that appear to smack of retribution." He took issue with the explanation for this differential offered by his colleagues, noting that the Commission's Prior Approval Policy Statement, on which the majority relies, "is not a declaration that the Commission is liberated from every agency's obligation to treat parties before it fairly and evenhandedly."
Commissioner Swindle also observed that the consent agreement that the Commission just announced in Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company -- a case with similarities to the Columbia/HCA situation -- provides for a second notification period lasting only 20 days. "I do not understand how my colleagues can square the relief in Commonwealth with what they have done to Columbia/HCA," he said. With regard to the $2.5 million civil penalty that Columbia/HCA recently paid for violating certain FTC orders, Commissioner Swindle said he did "not see what bearing that misconduct has on the entirely unrelated question of how much time we need to review future acquisitions. If the Commission has based its decision to lengthen the second waiting period on its reaction to respondent's previous behavior, then I would suggest that such a decision is not only arbitrary but punitive. ... Because Columbia/HCA's prior order violations have no demonstrable bearing on the appropriate length of the second waiting period, I dissent from the Commission's unjustified handling of this respondent." (See news release dated April 17, 1998; Docket Nos. C-3472, C-3505, C-3538, C-3544 and 9256; Staff contact is Daniel P. Ducore, 202-326-2526.)
Copies of the orders and the full text of the statements are available from the FTC’s web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-FTC-HELP (202-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording