Ep 70: The Story of CRNAs & an Antitrust Victory with Tafford & Lori Oltz – Part 2

This is the conclusion to the story about Tafford Oltz, CRNA, and his antitrust victory in the late-80s, which came to our attention during a previous podcast. Find out the details to the depositions, how a few of the anesthesiologists were caught lying, and how a couple people ended up flipping. Plus, we’ll find out how it all ended and how much time and money went into the case.

Click the timestamps below to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

On This Episode:

Not that long ago, we were having a conversation with Sandy Ouellette, CRNA, for the podcast when she mentioned antitrust case involving a CRNA out in Montana. It happened a little more than 30 years ago but the couple that ended up winning against the hospital still lives out there.

So we had to connect with them and hear this story because it’s might just be the only antitrust victory for a CRNA. Thankfully, Tafford Oltz, CRNA, and his wife Lori Oltz, CRNA, agreed to join us on Beyond the Mask to relive that story. It turned into such a great conversation that we had to break it up into two different episodes.

If you missed the first one, go back and start there. You’ll hear the entire backstory with Taff. Among the things we talked about were how he began working as a nurse anesthetist, how he established work at St. Peter’s Community Hospital in Helena, Montana, and what it was like working in the 70s and 80s alongside these M.D. anesthesiologists.

You can also find some more background on the case from our show notes for episode one, which you can read here.

On part two of this story, we move into the trial and how everything played out. It’s a tale about deception, how a handwriting specialist was almost called in, and why a couple people flipped sides. The setup to the story had a lot of juicy details but it continues to take twists and turns until things are finally settled and closed out.

You’ll hear the details on how the settlement came to be, but this journey took 16 years and cost Taff and Lori hundreds of thousands of dollars to get to the end result. Make sure you stick around until the end to hear the message each of them want to share with CRNAs and why they feel it’s important to use this case.

It’s a fascinating story and one you have to listen to. If you want to read more about the case, here’s a summary.

Check it out at the top of the page and use the timestamps to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

[2:04] – Pre-trial settlements and the summary judgement

[3:08] – Taff and Lori had a lot going on at this time.

[4:19] – After the first depositions, Taff got a surprise call.

[6:03] – Demands came to fire them.

[7:22] – The remaining three anesthesiologists were each deposed but conspired to not tell the whole truth.

[8:11] – In the meantime, St. Peter’s Chief of Staff received a subpoena with instructions. 

[9:15] – Taff tells the story of the last two anesthesiologists and how depositions went down.

[10:20] – First settlement was offered but rejected by the Oltzs.

[10:41] – Let’s shift to post-trial rullings.

[14:42] – How long did it take to close this case and the costs associated?

[16:02] – The court ordered a settlement conference and required all 24 hospital board members to attend.

[16:45] – Taff details settlement money.

[18:30] – Final thoughts on this experience from Taff.   

[21:15] – How CRNAs can use this case.

[23:29] – Final thought from Lori on MDAs and CRNAs


“When we took two months of vacation in Montana, which was estimated how long this trial was going to last, many of the anesthesiologists made special efforts to tell us, ‘Have a great time but we’re going to miss you.’” 

-Tafford Oltz, CRNA

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