Premium Research Services v. State of N.H., Doc. No. 217-2010-CV-148 (Merrimack Super. Ct., September 14, 2010) (McNamara, J.)

Pages: 1 2 3


The State of New Hampshire


Premium Research Services


State of New Hampshire
(Depts. of Labor and Treasury)

NO. 217-2010-CV-148


Petitioner, Premium Research Services, seeks an order pursuant to RSA chapter 91-A, the Right-to-Know Law, requiring the Respondents to produce documents relating to disbursements from the second injury bond occurring in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Petitioner's purpose in making the request is to gather information necessary to verify that workers' compensation carriers are meeting their obligations to New Hampshire employers under applicable regulations. The State moves to dismiss. For the reasons stated herein, the State's motion is GRANTED.

Petitioner argues that the legislative history of RSA 281-A:21-b reveals that the legislation was enacted to prevent any member of the general public from obtaining the Department of Labor injury reports, which contain personal employee information. Petitioner also argues that if the Court does not grant the petition, there may be no way to determine whether workers' compensation carriers are carrying out their obligations.

The State objects to Petitioner's request on the ground that RSA 281-A:21-b exempts the records Petitioner is seeking from the Right-to-Know Law. The statute in question provides specifically that:

[2] Confidentiality of Workers' Compensation Claims. Proceeding and records of the department of labor with respect to workers' compensation claims under RSA 281-A shall be exempt from RSA 91-A. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the department of labor from releasing information on a person's claim or claims to the person, the person's legal representative, attorney, healthcare provider, employer, the employer's workers' compensation insurer, the attorneys for the employer or employer's insurer, or state and federal agencies relevant jurisdiction. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, information relating to a person's claim or claims may be released to other parties only with the prior written permission of the claimant.

When examining the language of the statute, the Court accords the words used their plain and ordinary meaning. State v. Langill, 157 N.H. 77, 84 (2008). The Court considers the words and phrases used within the context of the statute as a whole. State v. Njogu, 156 N.H. 551-552 (2007). "This enables the court to better discern the legislature's intent and to interpret statutory language in light of the policy or purpose sought to be advance by the statutory scheme." Id. (quoting Grand China v. United Nat'l Ins. Co., 156 N.H. 429, 431 (2007)). The New Hampshire Supreme Court has stated that it will not consider what the legislature might have said or add language that the legislature did not see fit to include. Id. Moreover, the Court will not consider legislative history "to construe a statute that is clear on its face." State v. Njogu, 156 N.H. 551-552 (2007).

Recognizing the legislative intent behind RSA 281-A:21-b, Petitioner has offered to narrow his request to the identity of the employer, the identity of the insurance carrier, the date of injury, the amount paid to the insurance carrier from the second injury fund, and the date that the second injury fund agreed to reimburse the insurance carrier. The Court believes that this request would not run afoul of what appears to be the legislative intent behind the statute.

[3] However, in this case, the words of the statute itself are clear. The information the Plaintiff seeks is plainly a record of the Department of Labor with respect to workers' compensation claims under RSA 281-A. Under these circumstances, the Court cannot ignore the plain meaning of the statute and grant the request.


   9/14/10       /s/   

DATE Richard B. McNamara

Presiding Justice