West Penn Allegheny accuses UPMC of bribing docs

Pennsylvania's West Penn Allegheny Health System filed an amended complaint yesterday in its lawsuit against University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) that claims the rival used "predatory tactics," according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article. UPMC allegedly formed joint ventures with community hospitals that excluded West Penn Allegheny, lured physicians away from the health system with bribes and made defamatory statements to prevent West Penn Allegheny from borrowing funds.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals assigned a new judge to take over the lawsuit between West Penn Allegheny and UPMC and promises a quick resolution, Post-Gazette reported. The lawsuit came to a halt after West Penn accused the judge ruling on the case of potential bias.

U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti, who is replacing Judge Arthur J. Schwab, said the three-year-old complaints were too old. "I don't want to have roadblocks and excessive motions beyond motions and motions."

Conti also has lifted the stay on a suit against UPMC and Highmark filed in 2010. She is giving both organizations 30 days to respond to accusations that a UPMC-Highmark conspiracy obstructed competition, a complaint initially filed by real estate company Royal Mile, according to the article.

According to UPMC's attorney, the hospital plans to challenge the amended complaint and bring Highmark back into the case through counterclaims.

For more information:
- read the Post-Gazette article on the new judge
- here's the Post-Gazette article on amended complaint