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October 22. 2013 10:10PM

Attorney: Court should deny PLT's attempt to delay order to return $17.1m

CONCORD — The state Supreme Court should deny the latest attempt by Property-Liability Trust, a former New Hampshire Local Government Center subsidiary, to delay complying with a hearing officer order to return $17.1 million to members of a separate health insurer, a state Bureau of Securities Regulation attorney wrote in a responding brief.

"The Court has grounds to deny the instant request for a stay for a number of reasons," Volinsky wrote.

Last year, LGC, after a lengthy hearing with its regulator, the Bureau of Securities Regulation, was ordered to give the money back to members of HealthTrust, another former LGC subsidiary. The hearing officer, Donald Mitchell, ruled that the money had been improperly transferred from HealthTrust to subsidize a workers' compensation program for about a decade.

The payment is due Dec. 1, but PLT does not have the money. PLT had asked for the stay partly because it claims it doesn't have the cash to make the payment and was unable to secure a loan to cover the payment.LGC, which was also ordered to split up its subsidiaries and pay back surpluses of $33 million to HealthTrust members and $3.1 million to PLT members, has appealed the order to the state Supreme Court, though it made the first two payments in August. Arguments in the case are scheduled for next month, but a decision likely will not be handed down before Dec. 1, prompting PLT to ask for a stay in the payment until the court rules on the appeal.
A previous attempt for a stay of the entire order was denied by the court last year.

PLT attorneys argued in their request that the order could cause PLT to close its operations as "failure to stay the Final Order as to the $17.1 million payment would cause irreparable harm to PLT, while a stay would cause no corresponding harm to the New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation (the "Bureau") or the public interest."
Volinsky argued that the court shouldn't grant this stay request based on the possibility of harm to PLT and that PLT "misperceives" the balance of harm by arguing that the BSR would not suffer harm if a stay is granted.

"The Court should consider the impact of the stay upon the towns, cities, school districts and counties ... who are entitled to the refunded surplus that is due and who are also entitled to know if their workers compensation insurer is capable of complying with regulatory orders before those members pay another year's premiums," he wrote.
"In my opinion, there was nothing in the BSR's response that demonstrates granting the stay until the Supreme Court can rule on the appeal will cause any additional adverse impact or possible harm," PLT Executive Director Wendy Parker said.

tbuckland@unionleader.com


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