MassMutual internal reports not exempt from disclosure

John O'Brien Mar. 26, 2007, 2:08pm


HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut's Supreme Court decided Monday that an internal investigation conducted by MassMutual Insuance Co. and provided to state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal may be released to a newspaper.

Senior Associate Justice David Borden wrote the unanimous opinion.

"The plaintiff (MassMutual) argues that the confidentiality provision of the antitrust act is intended to encourage the subjects of investigations to cooperate with (the Attorney General's) office," Borden wrote, "and that this court should conclude, therefore, that the denial of a temporary injunction seeking to enforce the confidentiality provision should be considered a final judgment for purposes of appeal in order to encourage such cooperation and to avoid a chilling effect should an appeal not be available upon the denial of an application for a temporary injunction seeking... to prevent disclosure."

The Court did not agree, calling the argument "unpersuasive."

On Nov. 2, 2004, Blumenthal's office contacted MassMutual to investigate possible violations of the Connecticut Antitrust. MassMutual provided documents in response to the subpoena.

In March 2005, Blumenthal's office requested more documents, inquiring whether the plaintiff's internal investigation that had resulted in the termination of its former chief executive officer, Robert O'Connell, included any information relevant to Blumenthal's investigation of the insurance industry.

MassMutual complied, giving copies of the internal investigation report to Blumenthal, though it asked they be kept confidential.

The Hartford Courant submitted a Freedom of Information Act request seeking a copy, and Blumenthal sent notice to MassMutual that he was going to provide it. The next day, July 22, 2005, MassMutual filed fo an injunction preventing it.

A temporary restraining order was granted, though it was lifted later. MassMutual filed the appeal, which now sides with the trial court.

O'Connell was charged by MassMutual with misconduct and fired in June 2005. The board of directors said he artificially inflated the value of a shadow retirement account to $30 million by buying a company-owned condominium at a below-market price and that he used policyholder assets for his personal use of company aircraft, a report from The Associated Press said.

An arbitration panel ruled that O'Connell was owed $50 million in lost wages and benefits because he did not violate terms in his contract for which he could be fired.

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