Client Network Services Inc. went to court Tuesday to force the state to produce records related to the cancellation of its nearly $200 million Medicaid claims processing contract.
In a petition filed in 19th Judicial District Court, in Baton Rouge, CNSI attorney Michael W. McKay sought the release of state documents the Jindal administration has failed to produce in response to his public records requests.
State attorneys recently denied McKay’s public records request, based on the Louisiana attorney general asserting “his law enforcement privilege.”
The Jindal administration fired CNSI in March after a news report that a federal grand jury had subpoenaed documents related to the contract’s award. The Attorney General’s Office said at the time it also was looking into the dealings.
CNSI has filed a lawsuit challenging its contract termination.
The state Public Records Law provides for an exception for records held in the Attorney General’s Office when the records pertain to pending criminal litigation or any criminal litigation which can reasonably anticipated.
The petition asks the District Court to order the state Division of Administration and state Department of Health and Hospitals to produce the records or show cause why they should not.
“CNSI believes it is time for the state to ... start calling witnesses and come into the sunlight and get ready for the gun fight,” said Lewis Unglesby, the Baton Rouge lawyer representing CNSI.
He filed the petition.
Unglesby said the state must prove through witnesses that “there is a real live investigation.”
The petition also argues the state records sought are not in the possession of the attorney general and he is not the custodian of them.
“DHH and the Division cite no authority that would allow an expansion of this exception,” the petition argued.
The petition details McKay’s efforts to obtain the records, including those cited by the administration as the reasons behind CNSI’s firing.
According to the court document, an initial response indicated the request was under review to determine what may be off-limits, then the state responded the request was overly-broad and finally the “law enforcement privilege” was asserted.
As it canceled the contract, the state cited Louisiana law that states: “If the person awarded the contract has acted fraudulently or in bad faith, the contract shall be declared null and void.”