A lawsuit filed against Intermountain Health Care by a group of physical therapists has been dropped.

U.S. District Court Judge Bruce S. Jenkins this week dismissed the antitrust suit filed by Registered Physical Therapists Inc. against IHC in February 1986. The group accused the not-for-profit health care organization of conspiring to unreasonably restrain trade in a segment of the health care services market.Registered Physical Therapists based its accusation on IHC's decision to exercise an option to lease space for physical therapy services in a medical office building adjacent to IHC's Cottonwood Hospital Medical Center in Murray. The group felt it should have been allowed to lease the space.

During the course of the suit, IHC noted that Registered Physical Therapists had declined space in the same locale and demonstrated that competition for physical therapy services along the Wasatch Front area of Utah had actually increased.

Writing that Registered Physical Therapists had not presented specific evidence of injury to competition, Jenkins dismissed the suit as being without merit and precluded the jury trial that Registered Physical Therapists had requested.

"We always felt that this accusation was unfounded, and we're very pleased that the U.S. District Court agreed with us," said Douglas J. Hammer, vice president and general counsel for IHC. "We are vigilant in our efforts to comply with all antitrust laws. We have a detailed program of compliance, our hospitals adhere to it, and we will defend ourselves vigorously against such accusations."

Hammer wants the general public to recognize that merely filing a lawsuit results in tremendous costs to both the plaintiff and the defendant.

IHC is a major provider of health care services in Utah - a fact that Hammer says makes it a frequent target of criticism in the antitrust area.

"But size alone is not the determining factor for antitrust issues," Hammer said. "The key is whether or not the organization acts in such a way as to injure competition. To the best of my knowledge we have not and do not violate antitrust laws and I can say without equivocation that we have every intention of encouraging fair competition on the basis of price, quality and services, which ultimately benefits all consumers of health care."