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UPMC argues for surrender of records in Highmark class-action settlement talks

| Monday, April 8, 2013, 9:25 p.m.

A federal judge should order Highmark and lawyers for plaintiffs in a class-action antitrust lawsuit to turn over records of their settlement talks to UPMC, a retired judge said in a report filed Monday.

The hospital system contends that the lawsuit is a “sham” and that Highmark and lawyers representing Royal Mile Co. and the other plaintiffs are working together to hurt UPMC's business.

U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti appointed Richard A. Levie, a retired superior court judge for the District of Columbia, to untangle competing evidence claims in the lawsuit. Levie said UPMC's arguments are “sufficiently strong” to justify giving it a look at the records.

Scott Hare, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, said that while they have since filed a motion to withdraw the proposed settlement, they disagree with Levie's recommendation.

“This proposed settlement is not the product of collusion. It is not a sham. That is nothing more than a wild fishing expedition by UPMC,” he said.

A UPMC spokesman declined to comment. A Highmark spokesman couldn't be reached.

Conti has yet to rule on the motion to withdraw the proposed settlement. She is in the process of appointing a health care economist to determine what value it would have for premium payers.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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