Louisiana insurance chief loses records fight

Associated Press
July 29, 2009

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon has lost a legal fight with the state's legislative auditor and said Wednesday that he'll give auditors "hundreds of thousands" of documents they demanded from his agency.

A decision from state District Judge Todd Hernandez, dated July 17, says Legislative Auditor Steve Theriot must have access to the documents he's sought since 2007 for audits of the Department of Insurance and the state-backed insurer, Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

The ruling partly resolves a lawsuit Donelon filed trying to block Theriot's access to the documents on grounds that their release is prohibited by state and federal privacy protections. Among the documents Donelon said he plans to release are e-mails related to: ongoing fraud investigations, consumer complaints and his employees' sick leave requests.

However, Donelon said he's still considering whether to appeal to Hernandez's decision -- in hopes that the decision won't set a precedent for his and other state agencies in the future.

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