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Risk Metrics Corp. v. Indiana Compensation Rating Bureau

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 24, 2017

Risk Metrics Corporation, Appellant,
Indiana Compensation Rating Bureau and Indiana Worker's Compensation Board, Appellees.

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Timothy W. Oakes, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49D02-1408-PL-26675

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Steven M. Badger Alexandra R. French Barnes & Thornburg LLP Indianapolis, Indiana


          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE - INDIANA WORKER'S COMPENSATION BOARD Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Kyle Hunter Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Najam, Judge.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] Risk Metrics Corporation, n/k/a LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Inc., ("LexisNexis") appeals the trial court's entry of summary judgment for the Indiana Compensation Rating Bureau ("the Rating Bureau")[1] and the Indiana Worker's Compensation Board ("the Board") on the Rating Bureau's complaint for declaratory judgment. LexisNexis raises a single issue for our review, which we restate as whether the trial court erred when it concluded that certain insurance coverage policy data held by the Rating Bureau that were accessible by the Board are not subject to public access pursuant to Indiana's Access to Public Records Act, Ind. Code §§ 5-14-3-1 to -10 (Supp. 2017) ("APRA"). We hold that the records of that data held by the Rating Bureau are confidential records and, therefore, are not available under APRA. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Facts and Procedural History[2]

         [¶2] The Board is the state agency that is charged with administering Indiana's Worker's Compensation Laws, I.C. §§ 22-3-2-2 to -6-3. Those laws require, in relevant part, that every employer in Indiana carry insurance to cover worker's compensation claims, unless the employer is exempt. An employer required to carry such insurance "shall file with [the Board], in the form prescribed by the [B]oard, within ten (10) days after the termination of the employer's insurance by expiration or cancellation, evidence of the employer's compliance . . . ." I.C. § 22-3-5-2. However, at any time the Board "is entitled to request that an employer provide the [B]oard with current proof of compliance, " and if the employer "fails or refuses to provide current proof of compliance" the Board "may assess a civil penalty against the employer . . . ." I.C. § 22-3-5-2.5(a), (b). Prior to 1998, the Board received and maintained employer proof of compliance data ("POC data") in accordance with Section 22-3-5-2 in the form of paper filings submitted by employers directly to the Board.

         [¶3] Meanwhile, insurers certified to provide worker's compensation coverage in

         Indiana are, as a matter of law, members of the Rating Bureau. I.C. § 27-7-2-3. Although created by statute, the Rating Bureau is a private entity regulated by the Indiana Department of Insurance ("IDOI"). I.C. § 27-7-2-28.2. According to the Indiana Code, the Rating Bureau exists to achieve the following purposes:

(1) To prohibit price fixing agreements and other anticompetitive behavior by companies.
(2) To protect policyholders and the public against the adverse effects of excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory rates.
(3) To promote price competition among companies so as to provide rates that are responsive to competitive market conditions.
(4) To provide regulatory procedures for the maintenance of appropriate data reporting systems.
(5) To improve availability, fairness, and reliability of insurance.
(6) To authorize essential cooperative action among companies in the ratemaking process and to regulate such activity to prevent practices that tend to substantially lessen competition or create a monopoly.
(7) To encourage the most efficient and economic marketing practices. I.C. § 27-7-2-1.1.

         [¶4] Pursuant to those purposes, one of the key functions of the Rating Bureau is to collect statistical policy data from its members, which the Rating Bureau then uses to recommend minimum premiums and rates to the Commissioner of the IDOI. I.C. § 27-7-2-4(a). And to facilitate the collection of that data, since December 31, 1997, the Rating Bureau has used as its vendor the National Council on Compensation Insurance ("NCCI"). NCCI is a nongovernmental, not-for-profit company based in Florida. NCCI collects a vast array of statistical policy data, including POC data, from worker's compensation insurance providers throughout the United States, which NCCI then reports to various jurisdictions as required on behalf of those providers.

         [¶5] On January 1, 1998, the Board implemented a new system in which the paper proof-of-compliance filings from employers under Section 22-3-5-2 were replaced with electronic policy data from insurers. In particular, the Board entered into a contract with NCCI pursuant to which NCCI, acting as the Board's agent, would "report . . . to the Board" the policy data NCCI had collected on Indiana's certified worker's compensation insurance providers. Appellant's App. Vol. V at 40. Between January of 1998 and August of 2014, NCCI provided the Indiana policy data directly to the Board electronically.

         [¶6] LexisNexis is in the business of compiling and selling business data that it collects through public records requests. Between 1999 and 2011, LexisNexis and the Board had several APRA disputes with respect to the policy data NCCI had collected and provided to the Board. In 2012, LexisNexis filed a complaint against the Board under APRA for access to that policy data. In January of 2013, LexisNexis and the Board settled that complaint pursuant to an agreement in which the Board agreed to make the policy data available for public access "so long as no change of law" occurred to make that data "confidential or exempted from disclosure in any way . . . ." Id. at 35-36.

         [¶7] Thereafter, effective July 1, 2013, the Indiana General Assembly enacted a new statute codified at Indiana Code Section 27-7-2-40. P.L. 275-2013 § 20. According to Section 27-7-2-40:

The [Rating Bureau] may collect data from its members under this chapter, including:
(1) claims data;
(2) policy data such as policy number, policy term, and employer and employee ...

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