Objective: This is the seventh paper in a series that explores the historical events surrounding the Wilk v American Medical Association (AMA) lawsuit in which the plaintiffs argued that the AMA, the American Hospital Association, and other medical specialty societies violated antitrust law by restraining chiropractors' business practices. The purpose of this paper is to provide a summary of the lawsuit that was first filed in 1976 and concluded with the final denial of appeal in 1990.
Methods: This historical research study used a phenomenological approach to qualitative inquiry into the conflict between regular medicine and chiropractic and the events before, during, and after a legal dispute at the time of modernization of the chiropractic profession. Our methods included obtaining primary and secondary data sources. The final narrative recount was developed into 8 papers following a successive time line. This paper, the seventh of the series, considers the information of the 2 trials and the judge's decision.
Results: By the time the first trial began in 1980, the AMA had already changed its anti-chiropractic stance to allow medical doctors to associate with chiropractors if they wished. In the first trial, the chiropractors were not able to overcome the very stigma that organized medicine worked so hard to create over many decades, which resulted in the jury voting in favor of the AMA and other defendants. The plaintiffs, Drs Patricia Arthur, James Bryden, Michael Pedigo, and Chester Wilk, continued with their pursuit of justice. Their lawyer, Mr George McAndrews, fought for an appeal and was allowed a second trial. The second trial was a bench trial in which Judge Susan Getzendanner declared her final judgment that “the American Medical Association (AMA) and its members participated in a conspiracy against chiropractors in violation of the nation's antitrust laws.” After the AMA's appeal was denied by the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 1990, the decision was declared permanent. The injunction that was ordered by the judge was published in the January 1, 1988, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Conclusion: The efforts by Mr McAndrews and his legal team and the persistence of the plaintiffs and countless others in the chiropractic profession concluded in Judge Getzendanner's decision, which prevented the AMA from rebuilding barriers or developing another boycott. The chiropractic profession was ready to move into its next century.
Author keywords: Health Occupations, Chiropractic, Medicine, Humanities, History, 20th Century, Antitrust Laws
Lawsuit discussed: Wilk et al v American Medical Association et al Nos. 87-2672 and 87-2777 (F. 2d 352 Court of Appeals 7th Circuit, April 25, 1990)
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