A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has rejected most of a lawsuit that a consumer advocacy group filed against the California Department of Insurance accusing state regulators of illegally holding public records.
In a decision issued this past week, Judge Mitchell Beckloff ruled against a request by Consumer Watchdog that sought to force regulators to turn over emails and meeting information sought under the California Public Records Act.
The judge further declined to order the agency to provide unredacted copies of other records or conduct a more extensive search for documents that may be subject to the initial request.
“Petitioner’s demand would require extraordinary effort from respondents resulting in an intrusive search,” Beckloff wrote in a 16-page ruling.
“As a practical matter, the petitioner would have respondents and their 1,400 employees shifted through documents in their possession to determine whether any particular document contains a name of an otherwise unidentified individual,” he added.
The decision was issued Monday, almost three months after lawyers for Consumer Watchdog and the Department of Insurance squared off during a court hearing in Los Angeles.
State insurance officials said they work diligently to provide public records upon request.
“The judge ruled the Department of Insurance adhered to California’s Public Records Act guaranteeing the public’s right to know,” spokesperson Michael Soller said in an email.
“We will continue to respond to each and every public records request in accordance with the law and our core values of transparency and public access,” he added.
Despite prevailing on most elements of the legal dispute, state insurance officials were ordered to release some of the withheld paperwork.
The ruling directed the state to provide Consumer Watchdog unredacted copies of a single calendar entry. The judge also ordered that copies of certain emails be turned over to the court to