UPMC attorney argues company employs no one, is nonprofit

by: Aaron Aupperlee, TribLIVE Updated:

PITTSBURGH - A hearing in Pittsburgh's challenge of UPMC's tax-exempt status ended abruptly Monday as lawyers for both sides disagreed about whether the hospital giant has employees.

This article was written by Aaron Aupperlee, who is a staff writer for Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.

William Pietragallo, an attorney for UPMC, said the company employs no one. Subsidiaries, such as Children's Hospital, Magee-Women's Hospital, UPMC Presbyterian and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, employ staff.

Ron Barber, an attorney with Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky who is representing the city, said he would produce a federal tax form proving UPMC has employees.

"He can't do it. He can't do it, your honor," Pietragallo told Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick.

The city sued UPMC, challenging the company's tax-exempt status as a nonprofit and public charity.

UPMC called the tax challenge a sham because with no employees, it is not not subject to the payroll tax. Pietragallo said each of UPMC's subsidies, all 501(c)3 nonprofits, filed the appropriate tax documents.

Wettick postponed the hearing, allowing the city to draft an amended complaint and UPMC to respond.

"If UPMC has no employees, there is nothing more for me to do," Wettick said.