Conn. SC gives Blumenthal power to progress antitrust probe

John O'Brien Sep. 4, 2008, 1:15pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's antitrust investigation against a Florida insurance intermediary will continue as a result of a ruling by the state Supreme Court.

Connecticut's justices voted 4-1 Tuesday not to grant Brown & Brown's motion for summary judgment because the case is still pending in a lower court. The company sought to block Blumenthal from sharing information obtained in subpoenas with witnesses.

"This ruling preserves and protects a vital tool in uncovering anticompetitive practices that undermine the free market and increase costs to consumers," Blumenthal said.

"State law provides my office with clear authority to share subpoenaed documents with witnesses and others in order to conduct antitrust investigations. Brown & Brown's argument clearly contradicted the statute, seeking to hobble and hamstring my office's ability to uncover and uproot anticompetitive activity."

Only Justice Richard Palmer dissented. He said the Court should have ruled because the case will end up there eventually.

"(W)ere we to adopt the dissent's position, we would open the floodgates to appeals brought from interlocutory orders. In each of these appeals, this court would abandon the well established Curcio test and, instead, engage in an analysis of the parties' claims," Justice Christine S. Vertefeuille wrote.

"Such a result would not further the principle of judicial economy that the dissent seeks to promote."

Brown & Brown helps consumers find the right insurance company with which to sign. Its website says it is the sixth-largest business of its kind in the country.

Blumenthal says it has violated antitrust laws. The company turned over 12,000 pages of documents before the dispute began.

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