West Penn: UPMC information request is a 'fishing expedition'
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UPMC has sought to turn an antitrust lawsuit against it into a "fishing expedition" designed to hook information that it can use to try to scuttle the pending merger between Highmark and West Penn Allegheny Health System, according to a court filing by West Penn today.
The filing comes in a lawsuit West Penn filed in 2009, alleging that UPMC and Highmark conspired to squash competition in the region's medical services and insurance markets. After West Penn agreed to come under Highmark's control in return for a $475 million investment, the region's number-two hospital system asked U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab for permission to file an amended complaint focused solely on UPMC.
Judge Schwab allowed for limited discovery on whether an amended complaint would be futile, cause undue delay or represent bad faith. UPMC last week filed a motion alleging that West Penn had refused to provide any material or depositions in response to its discovery requests.
West Penn's lawyers wrote in their response today that UPMC's requests for 14 depositions, and for documents from West Penn, Highmark and several of their attorneys and contractors, "strain credulity ... and primarily are designed to harass" its rivals and subvert their merger effort.
UPMC's desire to delve into the negotiations that led to West Penn and Highmark's merger agreement "simply provides UPMC a forum to continue its predatory behavior by inserting itself into its sole competitor's confidential business interests," they wrote.
UPMC has said in court filings that its requests are legitimate efforts to show whether West Penn's request to amend its complaint and continue its litigation are in good faith.
First Published January 26, 2012 12:00 am