Trial proceedings concerning the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust lawsuit against the proposed Aetna-Humana merger are set to begin Dec. 5, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The insurers requested a quick turnaround on the trial, citing a looming Dec. 31 agreement deadline. Under the merger contract, Louisville, Ky.-based Humana could walk out and collect a $1 billion break up fee from Aetna if the deal does not close by Dec. 31.
U.S. District Judge John Bates opened a scheduling hearing Wednesday initially favoring an early November trial start date. While the insurers commended the option, the DOJ argued the slim time frame would impede its case. The DOJ also argued there was nothing holding the insurers back from extending their contract deadline.
Mr. Bates compromised, landing on Dec. 5 and allocating 13 days for trail proceedings, according to the report. He said he will make a prompt decision on the case; however, he told insurers to plan for a mid-January ruling.
Earlier this week, Mr. Bates, who was originally overseeing both the Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana merger lawsuits, divvied the Anthem-Cigna case to another judge to improve the likelihood both cases could receive rulings by the end of the year. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is expected to schedule trial proceedings for the Anthem-Cigna case Friday, according to The Wall Street Journal.
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