Cases & Deals

UPMC prevails in trial before Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

Client(s) University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC)

Jones Day won a bench trial on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center ("UPMC"), one of the nation's preeminent integrated healthcare systems. UPMC was party to a five-year Consent Decree with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that guaranteed in-network access to UPMC providers for certain members of insurance products sold by Highmark Health, a competing integrated healthcare system. The Consent Decree included a modification provision that allowed the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General to seek modification of the agreement in the public interest. Weeks before the end of the Consent Decree, the Attorney General invoked that provision in a petition asking the Commonwealth Court to extend the Decree indefinitely.

The trial court initially granted UPMC's motion to dismiss, but the Attorney General took an expedited appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which reversed in a 4-3 decision. While no member of the Supreme Court adopted the Attorney General's interpretation that the Consent Decree could be used to modify the termination date, a four-justice majority held that the question was ambiguous and—over a three-justice dissent that would have adopted UPMC's interpretation of the Decree—remanded the case for expedited trial proceedings and an interpretation of the Consent Decree in light of the extrinsic evidence. The trial court held a bench trial just two weeks after the Supreme Court's decision and ultimately issued a decision in UPMC's favor, finding that the parties did not intend for the modification provision to permit extending the Consent Decree's termination date.

Commonwealth v. UPMC, et al., No. 334 MD 2014 (Pa. Commw.)