A federal judge has granted preliminary approval to the partial settlement of a lawsuit against Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that alleges collusion between the two institutions, according to a press release from Business Wire. 

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles’ approval applies to UNC and its medical school, but Duke and the Duke University Health System have not settled. 

The antitrust lawsuit was initially filed by Danielle Seaman, then-assistant professor of radiology at Duke, who alleges she lost out on a parallel faculty post at UNC due to an illegal agreement that prevented both institutions from hiring each other's employees. The agreement, she says, suppressed competition and wages in violation of antitrust law. 

Seaman's attorneys want Eagles to approve the case as a class-action lawsuit that represents medical personnel at both schools, but Duke is contesting that motion. 

The settlement requires UNC to cooperate in providing data, documents and testimony to the plaintiff as she continues her litigation against Duke. UNC has denied wrongdoing as part of the settlement, and cannot engage in illegal no-hire agreements in the future. 

According to a report by the Durham Herald Sun, Nancy Andrews, dean of the Medical School from 2007 to 2017, said in court filings that she never tried to prevent subordinates from taking jobs at UNC. 

“I am not aware of any instance in which Duke School of Medicine declined to recruit or hire anyone because he or she was a member of the [UNC] faculty or staff,” Andrews said in a signed statement filed Oct. 23. “I am not aware of anyone at Duke who believed that he or she was prevented from hiring a medical faculty member because the candidate was from [UNC]." 

Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, declined to comment.