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Corporation's reverse open records lawsuit dismissed, contract details released

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    News Media Update         ILLINOIS         Freedom of Information         Feb. 10, 2005    

Corporation’s reverse open records lawsuit dismissed, contract details released

  • A prescription drug contract for Illinois state workers was released this week after a court ruling that an exemption to the state’s open record’s law does not apply to already-negotiated prices.

Feb. 10, 2005 — The terms of an Illinois state contract with a prescription drug provider were released Monday after a trial court dismissed a reverse open records lawsuit. The contract, which two state senators and the Chicago Tribune sought access to, revealed that Illinois officials had agreed to pay Caremark RX Inc. hefty fees whenever state workers got their prescription drugs without using the company’s mail-order service.

The disclosure by Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes came after Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Anne Mason denied Caremark’s motion for an injunction to halt the contract’s release.

State Sens. Dale Righter, (R-Mattoon), and Peter Roskam, (R-Wheaton), first requested the Caremark contract, reportedly worth $200 million, from the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, the state agency that negotiated the contract. After the request was denied, the Chicago Tribune also requested the information and the request was redirected to Hynes.

After Hynes decided to release the information, Caremark filed a “reverse open records lawsuit” against him to block the imminent disclosure of what the company alleged were exempt records containing trade secrets and confidential commercial information. The Tribune and the Illinois Press Association intervened in the lawsuit, over Caremark’s objection, and were permitted to argue for disclosure before Judge Mason in a Feb. 4 court hearing.

The Tribune’s attorney told the court that Caremark’s claimed confidential commercial information exemption does not cover the mutually negotiated price in a state contract. “That information, the price, does not belong to Caremark any more than it belongs to the State of Illinois,” he said.

Caremark’s attorney countered that the company had shared “very proprietary pricing matrices” with the state in negotiating the contract.

“I cannot conceive of a rule of law that would shield from disclosure the price the State is paying for goods and services provided,” Mason ruled. Drawing a distinction between the contract bid process, when secrecy might protect competition, Mason said that “once a bid has been selected, the bids are open for review.”

Caremark v. Hynes; Media Counsel: Eric S. Mattson, Jamie L. Secord, and Donald M. Craven; Chicago, Illinois) -RL

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