Moreau v. N.H. Insurance Dep't, Doc. No. 218-1996-E-358 (Rockingham Super. Ct., November 12, 1996) (Gray, J.)

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Michael Moreau and
National Employment Services Corporation


New Hampshire Insurance Department


Michael Moreau and the National Employment Services Corporation (petitioners) have filed a petition to compel the production of documents held by the respondent pursuant to RSA 91-A. The documents relate to contract proposals the respondent Insurance Department (Department) has received to select a single servicing workers compensation carrier for the State. The petitioners have requested that the Department produce the bid proposals and many other documents relating to the single service carrier contract.

The Department states that it has given the petitioners access to many documents but has claimed an exemption under RSA 91-A for the documents which are the subject of this litigation. Subsequently, the insurance commissioner has issued an order pursuant to RSA 400-A:25, I, stating that the documents the petitioners seek are to be kept confidential. The commissioner's order provides the basis for the Department's motion to dismiss presently before the court.

RSA 400-A:25, I (Supp. 1995), states in relevant part: "[n]otwithstanding the provisions of RSA 91-A, the [insurance] [2] interest to make public additional records and documents or to hold certain records and documents confidential within the insurance department." On October 30, 1996, the insurance commissioner held that it was in the public interest to hold confidential certain documents in the department's possession.

The documents ordered confidential include the confidential bids and the other related documents the petitioners presently seek. The court finds that the commissioner's action in holding the documents confidential is expressly authorized by RSA 400-A:25, I. The only statutory restriction on such an order is that the commissioner find that it is in the public interest to hold such documents confidential. In his October 30 order, the commissioner has stated detailed and persuasive reasons that keeping such records confidential is in the public interest. The court finds that the commissioner has appropriately exercised his authority under RSA 400-A:25, I. Therefore, the documents at issue are not subject to disclosure under the New Hampshire's right to know law.

Accordingly, the New Hampshire Insurance Department's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

So ordered.

Date:    November 12, 1996       /s/   

Douglas R. Gray

Presiding Justice