Our case on behalf of Pitt Medical Professor Norman Wang provoked a strong reaction from the ten-plus defendants named in our complaint alleging that University of Pittsburgh officials and others illegally retaliated against Dr. Wang and defamed him for a peer-reviewed journal article on the overuse of racial preferences in the medical field.
As might be expected, the defendants threw everything but the kitchen sink into this effort. For example, the two major entities — Pitt and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) — relied heavily on the fact that Dr. Wang’s employment contract was with a wholly owned subsidiary of UPMC — a private non-profit corporation.
On the basis of this interlocking structure the University claimed that, while it might be subject to the First Amendment, it didn’t take any of the personnel actions complained about in our case. And, the UPMC argued that, while it did take action against Wang, it is not covered by the First Amendment. It reminded us of a shell game — just when you think you know the shell hiding the pea, you don’t.
The defendants managed to ignore the actual claim in the complaint, which does not allege a shell game at all. Rather, it claims that that the medical school led the charge against Wang from the beginning by working through several individuals who have appointments in the medical school in addition to their UPMC jobs.
Since a motion to dismiss must be decided on the basis of the actual complaint filed by the plaintiff rather than the imaginary version constructed by the defendants, we are confident the case will move forward intact.