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CPAN Submits Supplemental Brief to Michigan Supreme Court in MCCA Transparency Lawsuit

LANSING – The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) and the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) have now filed supplemental briefs in the Michigan Supreme Court in the latest round of a major lawsuit that will determine whether the MCCA is exempt from the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and therefore excused from disclosing to the public information regarding the way it administers the state’s auto no-fault catastrophic injury system.
“Although this case raises very important issues dealing with the operation of Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance laws, the constitutional question that the Supreme Court is interested in reviewing transcends the world of auto no-fault and focuses directly on the manner in which the legislature exercises its constitutional power to amend existing laws,” said CPAN President John Cornack.
In the first round of this litigation, the Ingham County Circuit Court ruled that the MCCA was subject to FOIA, and therefore, was required to make public all relevant data and information it utilizes to determine the annual MCCA assessments that are ultimately passed along to Michigan drivers.
The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the Circuit Court’s decision and held that the legislature properly exempted the MCCA from Michigan’s FOIA law when, in 1988, it enacted the MCCA exemption as part of an amendment to MCL 500.134, a provision of the Insurance Code. Although the exemption actually revised FOIA by relieving the MCCA of its FOIA obligations, the legislature did not republish FOIA to include the MCCA exemption in FOIA’s own exemptions provision (MCL 15.243).   
CPAN appealed that decision to the Michigan Supreme Court, and that Court recently issued an order requesting the parties to submit additional briefs addressing whether the 1988 statute was enacted in a constitutionally valid manner. Specifically, this issue deals with Article 4, Section 25 of the Michigan Constitution, which requires that the legislature republish and reenact any section of a statute that is amended by a subsequent statute. That was not done in this case, thereby raising the constitutional issue that the Supreme Court has ordered the parties to brief.
“There are few legal issues more important than those that deal with the way a democratic society governs itself – and that is the very issue raised in this lawsuit,” said Cornack. “This issue is particularly important because the statute that the legislature attempted to amend, the Freedom of Information Act, is the statute that guarantees Michigan citizens the right to acquire information dealing with the operations of public bodies created by the legislature to serve the people. That is why this lawsuit is properly referred to as the ‘Transparency Case.’ Such a reference is even more relevant now because it will determine how ‘transparent’ our legislature must be in order to comply with the rules imposed on it by the Michigan Constitution,” said Cornack.    

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