ShareThis Page

Judge refuses stay in UPMC-West Penn lawsuit

| Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 7:04 p.m.

A federal judge today denied UPMC's motion to halt a 2009 antitrust lawsuit filed by rival West Penn Allegheny Health System until the state Insurance Department rules on whether insurer Highmark Inc. can buy West Penn for $475 million. Highmark said it would drop the lawsuit and a separate false advertising lawsuit it filed against UPMC once the acquisition is complete. UPMC contends that moving forward with pretrial procedures and turning over "millions of pages" of documents would waste time and money under the circumstances. "We believe the case has been settled with West Penn and should be stayed," said Jonathan M. Jacobson, one of the lawyers representing UPMC in the nest of lawsuits. West Penn contends Highmark doesn't have the authority to order it to drop the antitrust lawsuit. "We have not agreed to the stay and will not agree to the stay," said Barbara T. Sicalides, one of the lawyers representing West Penn. U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti said there's no guarantee the merger will go through or that, if it does, the case will be dropped. She said she has no interest in dragging out a three-year-old case for another two to three years. "It's just way, way too long," she said. Conti ordered UPMC and West Penn to give each other by the end of July the documents they provided to the Justice Department during its investigation of the situation. She also ordered UPMC to provide the same documents to Royal Mile Co., a Whitehall-based property management company that claims in a separate antitrust lawsuit that UPMC and Highmark conspired to drive up premiums. The judge ordered Highmark to follow the same schedule for turning over its Justice Department documents to Royal Mile, unless Highmark files a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, in which case it will get an extra 15 days to turn over the documents. In a related matter, Conti ordered the unsealing of a redacted copy of the agreement between Highmark and UPMC that UPMC filed when it made its motion to stay the case. Since the judge's order came late today, the document is not yet publicly available.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.