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FTC, attorney general appeal ruling on Hershey-Pinnacle merger

Federal and state authorities are continuing their efforts to block a merger of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and PinnacleHealth System.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General have appealed a judge’s ruling that denied their request for a temporary injunction that would have halted the merger.

Additionally, in a stay motion, the FTC and the state have asked the court not to allow the merger until their appeal can be heard.

According to the motion filed today by the FTC and state, the two health systems are allowed to merge within three business days of the court’s ruling earlier this week. On Monday, federal Judge John E. Jones III ruled against the FTC’s request for an injunction, clearing the path for Hershey and Pinnacle to merge.

Three business days would mean the merger could go through by 12:01 a.m. Friday, according to court documents.

Penn State Hershey and PinnacleHealth declined to comment at this time.

Federal and state authorities now are asking for what is known as an injunction pending appeal.

“Absent an injunction pending appeal, plaintiffs (the FTC and the state attorney general) understand that (Pinnacle and Hershey) will immediately consummate at that time,” the FTC and state wrote.

The FTC and state also argued that an injunction pending appeal would “preserve the status quo, which would otherwise be irreparably altered if the merger occurs while appellate review proceeds.”

The injunction further would prevent “immediate, irreparable injury to consumers and competition,” according to court filings. The filings noted that if the merger did happen, it would be difficult to undo in the event of a ruling in favor of the FTC and the state.

If the court doesn’t have time to grant the injunction pending appeal before the merger, the FTC and attorney general asked the court to grant a brief injunction while the appellate court reviews a separate injunction pending appeal.

Jones would rule on the injunction pending appeal.

This story has been updated.

Michael Sadowski

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