In 1976, various chiropractors began a series of lawsuits against the AMA, other professional organizations, and several individual critics, charging that they had conspired to destroy chiropractic and to illegally deprive chiropractors of access to laboratory, x-ray, and hospital facilities. Most of the defendant groups agreed in out-of-court settlements that their physician members were free to decide for themselves how to deal with chiropractors.
In 1987, federal court judge Susan Getzendanner concluded that during the 1960s “there was a lot of material available to the AMA Committee on Quackery that supported its belief that all chiropractic was unscientific and deleterious.” The judge also noted that chiropractors still took too many x-rays. However, she ruled that the AMA had engaged in an illegal boycott. She concluded that the dominant reason for the AMA’s antichiropractic campaign was the belief that chiropractic was not in the best interest of patients. But she ruled that this did not justify attempting to contain and eliminate an entire licensed profession without first demonstrating that a less restrictive campaign could not succeed in protecting the public. Although chiropractors trumpet the antitrust ruling as an endorsement of their effectiveness, the case was decided on narrow legal grounds (restraint of trade) and was not an evaluation of chiropractic methods.
The Judge’s Ruling
- Summary of Opinion and Order
- Summary of Injunction Issued September 25, 1987
- Memorandum Opinion and Order
- I. The First Trial and the Wilk Decision
- II. Summary of This Court’s Rulings
- III. New Zealand Report
- IV. A. Liability of the American Medical Association (AMA) and Dr. Sammons
- B. Liability of Remaining Defendants
- Permanent Injunction Order