UPMC Fights Back Against Pittsburgh Mayor’s Attack

By: Paul Wood

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s unprecedented and ill-founded attack on UPMC and its tax-exempt status violated UPMC’s constitutional rights to due process and equal protection under the law, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court today by the health system.

The payroll tax action filed last month by the city of Pittsburgh and Mayor Ravenstahl deliberately disregarded all state and local administrative procedures put in place for tax disputes.  Rather than follow the law, a new, illegal process was concocted to be applied only to UPMC.  The law simply does not permit that.
After the city’s legal team ignored our request to have this issue settled through the appropriate process for tax disputes, we had no choice but to take this legal action to protect the rights of UPMC and its nearly 60,000 employees.

Here are five key points in our  legal pleadings:

10.          The state court action was announced and instituted in total disregard of state and local law and in gross violation of the constitutional rights of UPMC and its supported organizations, including their right to equal protection under the law, and procedural and substantive due process, as well as in contravention of Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce.
21.          As alleged more fully below, the Defendants have deliberately disregarded all of these obligations and/or limitations, choosing instead to gin up a new set of tax rules just for UPMC.
55.          . . .  Defendants acted deliberately to deny UPMC its right to due process by ignoring, abandoning and by-passing the procedures and rights set forth . . .
65.          . . .  the Mayor and City have affirmatively stated that they are targeting and have selectively filed an action only against UPMC, and that they have no plans to pursue similar relief against any similarly situated nonprofit charitable entities.
74.          By singling out UPMC for a lawsuit, and purporting to base it in significant part on UPMC’s engagement in international commerce and operations, the Defendants are infringing upon UPMC’s rights to engage in interstate and international commerce, in violation of the dormant Commerce Clause.

Paul Wood is UPMC’s vice president & chief communications officer.