2012-06-14 / Local & State

Ex-Highmark CEO: Domestic Dispute Was Catastrophic

PITTSBURGH (AP) – The fired CEO of Pennsylvania’s biggest health insurer said Thursday that he was injured physically and emotionally by the domestic dispute that led to his ouster, and that some friends and colleagues have since dropped him “like a hot potato.”

In his first public comments on the matter, former Highmark Inc. chief Ken Melani told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he went into seclusion after a fight with his mistress’s husband.

The March 25 confrontation in Oakmont left him with a bloodied face and one eye swollen shut, Melani said. He spent the night at a friend’s house and much of the next two weeks crying and dealing with the unraveling of his personal life and decades-long career.

Officials at the Pittsburgh based company have said they fired the 58-yearold Melani on April 1 because he repeatedly lied to senior management about his relationship with the woman, who also works for Highmark.

“The injuries resulting from Dr. Melani’s gross and willful misconduct include injuries to the Blue Cross Blue Shield brand, the company’s reputation, risk to business partners and financial harm,” the company said in announcing his removal.

Melani said his personal life has never affected his business decisions at Highmark, a company that generated $14.8 billion in revenue last year and employs more than 19,000 people.

“Everything I did was in the best interest of Highmark, with a business and community perspective in mind,” he said.

Melani, who was paid about $4.4 million last year, declined to speak about the status of his pension or severance package. One of his attorneys, Sam Cordes, told the newspaper that litigation against the insurer remains a possibility.

Melani said it has been especially hard to watch the effect the scandal has had on his family . his parents, who live in Cheswick; his adult daughters from a previous marriage; and his current wife and two children.

He noted that he has some job prospects both within and outside of Pittsburgh.

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