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Fla. Court Sides With Settlement Firm

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A Florida state appeals court says the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation cannot use a 2007 law to get the authority to publish information submitted in confidence by a life settlement firm before the law was adopted.

Coventry First L.L.C., Fort Washington, Pa., won the case on appeal from a decision by the circuit court in Leon County, Fla.

In its ruling, the lower court had denied Coventry’s request for an injunction barring the Florida OIR from disclosing the information.

The law requiring the state to keep such records confidential was changed in 2007. Coventry argued, however, that the state was required to keep information off the record if the information had been filed before the law was amended. The Florida OIR disagreed, and Coventry sued to keep the agency from disclosing the records.

According to court papers filed by Coventry, the information it sought to keep confidential included the names of the brokers involved in settlements, along with the names and addresses of viators; medical and personal financial information about insureds and potential viators; insurance policy numbers; negotiated contract prices; and the identities of the underwriting vendors.

Florida’s first district court of appeal has reversed the lower court’s decision and sided with Coventry, ruling that the new law cannot be applied retroactively. A company has a right to expect an agency to continue to restrict public access to records filed before a confidentiality is changed, the appeals court says.

A spokeswoman for the Florida OIR says the agency is “still reviewing its options” on whether to appeal the ruling.