Detroit Nurse Wages


Cason-Merenda et al. v. Detroit Medical Center et al. 
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
Case No. 06-15601

Case Overview

Keller Rohrback is acting as co-lead counsel in this matter proceeding before Chief Judge Gerald Rosen of the Eastern District of Michigan. Plaintiffs’ Third Corrected Class Action Complaint alleges a conspiracy by defendants and other hospitals in the Detroit-Warren-Livonia Metropolitan Statistical Area (“Detroit MSA”) to depress the compensation levels of Registered Nurses (“RNs”) employed at the conspiring hospitals.

Case Status

Pending Settlement 

On September 14, 2015, Chief Judge Gerald E. Rosen of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted preliminary approval to a settlement reached with the last remaining defendant in this litigation, Detroit Medical Center (officially known as VHS of Michigan, Inc., a subsidiary of Tenet Healthcare, henceforth known as “DMC”). This last settlement, if approved, will resolve all the claims in the case which alleges a conspiracy to suppress nurse compensation among eight Detroit area hospitals. If approved, this settlement will provide for a payment of $42 million to the certified Class.

The absolute earliest that any procedure for making claims to the funds from the DMC settlement will start is in the Spring of 2016, provided the Court grants approval to the proposed settlement after the final approval hearing scheduled for late January 2016.  

Finalized Settlements 

The Court has approved settlements with seven defendants, St. John Health, Oakwood Healthcare Corp., Bon Secours Cottage Health Services, Mount Clemens General Hospital, William Beaumont Hospital, Henry Ford Health System, and Trinity Health Corp. These settlements have collected over $48 million for Detroit hospital staff nurses. In addition, the Oakwood Settlement requires that Oakwood not engage in certain exchanges of information concerning current and prospective nurse compensation. All funds from these settlements have been distributed to class members.

The Litigation 

On September 13, 2013, Judge Rosen certified a class of staff nurses who worked at the eight defendant hospitals. Judge Rosen affirmed that decision in a subsequent Order issued on March 2, 2014. On February 3, 2015, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied VHS’s motion seeking leave to appeal that Order, and on April 28, 2015, the Sixth Circuit declined to grant an en banc review of that decision, with no Judge calling for a vote. This means that Ms. Cason-Merenda and Mr. Suhre have been authorized by the Court to represent the claims of Detroit area nurses in this litigation so members of this class can have their claims pursued without the need of any individual action by those nurses. A copy of Judge Rosen’s two decisions and the decision of the Court of Appeals are available below. A Court-approved Notice of Class Action will be sent to the class describing your rights and these matters in more detail.

Judge Rosen has also denied three separate Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants as to Plaintiffs’ claim for a violation of the Sherman Act subject to the Rule of Reason while dismissing one aspect of Plaintiffs’ antitrust claim that is subject to per se treatment. A copy of that Order, which has been published as 862 F. Supp. 2d 603, is available below.

The Court has also denied Defendants’ motion to exclude the testimony of Professor Orley Ashenfelter, Professor of Economics at Princeton University who will testify for Plaintiffs at trial regarding the impact of the conspiracy on Detroit nurses, as well as providing an estimate of the damages suffered by those nurses. A copy of this decision is available below.

Class Definition

All registered nurses who provided direct patient care in short term acute care facilities, exclusive of supervisory, managerial and advanced practice nurses, while employed by Defendants within the Detroit MSA at any time from December 12, 2002 through December 12, 2006. 

More details of the precise job titles at the defendant hospitals held by nurses who are members of the class can be found at the website

If you would like more information regarding this case, please contact us via email or call us toll free at 800.776.6044.

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