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Oct 26, 2012

Attorney Dench Serves As Expert Witness in State of Maine’s Insurance Information Suit

Category: Firm News

Attorney Bryan M. Dench, who is chairman of the board of the law firm of Skelton Taintor & Abbott, served as an expert witness for the State of Maine in the recently concluded litigation over the law requiring the MEA Health Benefits Trust to share claims experience data with public school units that request it.  The trust provides health insurance for some 67,000 Maine teachers and school employees and has 99% of the market.  The plan’s annual premium revenues are some $370 million.  For years public school units have sought claims experience data so they could receive insurance quotes from competing insurers, but the teachers’ union trust has refused to allow them access to that information. 

In October 2011, one year ago, the Legislature enacted LD 1326, requiring the trust to disclose the experience data to school units that requested it.  The trust immediately sued in federal court seeking to block access to the data.  Among other things, it argued that once the data were disclosed, it would lose insurance business and suffer severe financial harm.  Attorney Dench offered expert testimony to refute this theory, explaining that local school units could not unilaterally change their insurance plans even if they found it would save them money.  The plans would have to be changed through the collective bargaining process, which can take years to complete.  The lower federal court in Maine relied on this testimony as part of its ruling denying an injunction to the trust, and the First Circuit Court of Appeals has just affirmed that decision, resulting in the union’s abandonment of its lawsuit.

Attorney Dench has extensive experience spanning over 35 years in collective bargaining, mediation, and related public sector labor relations matters.