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Highmark wants UPMC to return confidential documents

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 5:58 p.m.

Highmark Inc. on Wednesday asked an Allegheny County judge to order UPMC to return documents it obtained in last year's court dispute involving the insurer and West Penn Allegheny Health System.

The insurer said the 138 documents were highly sensitive and confidential, yet rival UPMC wrongfully disseminated them within UPMC and third parties. There were 19 documents under seal, the insurer said.

UPMC spokesman Paul Wood said the attorneys for the health system already returned to the court all the sealed documents after reaching an agreement with Highmark's prior legal counsel in December. The rest of the documents were “public record” and never considered under seal, he said.

Wood said Highmark is launching a “baseless and hyperbolic attack on UPMC's receipt and retention of the remaining documents.”

The documents surfaced during a four-day hearing in October and November in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. Following the hearing, Common Pleas Judge Christine Ward ruled that Highmark did not breach its $475 million affiliation agreement with the hospital network.

Highmark said it never intended for the documents to be seen by UPMC's management or attorneys.

“I was personally and professionally appalled to read that UPMC has obtained and used these documents, and also at the arrogance of UPMC when it previously appeared before the court on this matter,” said Jerry McDevitt, an attorney with the Downtown firm K&L Gates representing Highmark.

The documents include financial information, projections and insights into the relationship between Highmark and financially troubled West Penn Allegheny.

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