Kent Thiry is a guinea pig. A very rich, very bombastic, big, blond guinea pig.
Last week began the criminal trial of Thiry and DaVita, the company where he served as CEO and chairman of the board. The U.S. Department of Justice has charged Thiry and DaVita with violation of the Sherman Anti-trust Act by conspiring with other companies to avoid hiring senior-level executives away from each other.
There is a lot to unpack in this trial.
First, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, the bill codified in 15 U.S. Code § 1, has been around awhile. Congress passed the bill in 1890 as a response to the hoarding of corporate power wrought by America’s Gilded Age. It makes it a felony to contract or conspire in restraint of trade or commerce.
For example, John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil effectively monopolized the oil industry by the late 19th century. His oil company held far too much sway over the lives of everyday Americans. Now we have multiple competing oil companies holding far too much sway over the lives of everyday Americans.
In the interim, the DOJ has never brought a criminal case against any person or company like the one it has brought against Thiry and DaVita.