Monday, May 1, 2017

Court rules that NJ Insurance Underwriting Association is subject to OPRA. Employees' "modest" salaries disclosed.

In an October 26, 2016 article, I reported that Libertarians for Transparent Government, Inc (LFTG) had sought a court ruling holding that the  New Jersey Insurance Underwriting Association (NJIUA) is subject to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).  In an April 10, 2017 court order, Essex County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey B. Beacham held that the NJIUA is indeed subject to OPRA and violated it by failing to fulfill LFTG's records request and by failing to create an OPRA request form.

The order also compelled the NJIUA to produce a list of employee names and salaries that LFTG had requested. The list of employee salaries produced as a result of Judge Beacham's order shows that NJIUA President Steve Mutterperl's salary is $199,072 while Chief Information Officer Israel Popack and Controller Albert Chin make $182,468 and 151,242 respectively.  In his September 16, 2016 letter to LFTG, NJIUA lawyer Hugh P. Francis claimed that the NJIUA "has 17 modestly paid employees [and] is reluctant to release their names and salaries without knowing the need for such information . . ." 

Although the NJIUA initially resisted the lawsuit, it ultimately decided to not object to Judge Beacham signing LTFG's proposed order.  The order also requires the NJIUA to pay LFTG's attorney fees and costs.  LFTG was represented in the lawsuit by CJ Griffin of the Hackensack-based firm of Pashman Stein Walder Hayden.

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