BISMARCK, N.D. — Attorneys are awaiting a court date in a case about a proposed clinic merger in North Dakota.

The Sanford Health and Mid Dakota Clinic providers agreed to merge last year, but a federal judge blocked the move, The Bismarck Tribune reported. The judge ruled in favor of the Federal Trade Commission and the North Dakota Attorney General’s office, which argued that the merger could result in antitrust law violations if it’s allowed to proceed before a final FTC determination can be made.

The providers have appealed, arguing that the state’s largest insurance provider, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Dakota, would maintain any lost completion from the proposed merger. They also argue that Mid Dakota could fail if the merger is denied.

The appeal was screened for an oral argument in March. The earliest the arguments could be heard is May 14-18.

Sandford Health and Mid Dakota have told the FTC that they will abandon the merger if the injunction is upheld, according to court documents.

“There’s always a good chance the court of appeals will find something in the U.S. District Court opinion with which it disagrees,” said Thomas Horton, a professor of law at The University of South Dakota School of Law, who has tried a number of these cases for both the government and the defense.

An FTC administrative law court hearing would be scheduled if the providers win their appeal. The hearing would be scheduled to begin 21 days after the Eighth Circuit opinion is issued.

Information from: Bismarck Tribune,