BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- A state judge has delayed a Maryland company's lawsuit that challenges the Jindal administration's abrupt cancellation of its nearly $200 million contract to process Medicaid claims.
The Advocate reports Judge Tim Kelley granted a six-month stay Tuesday of the civil proceedings over the objection from lawyer Lewis Unglesby, who represents Client Network Services Inc.
Kelley said he based his latest ruling on law enforcement investigative files that state prosecutors provided him for a private review.
Assistant State Attorney General Colin Clark argued that a stay of the civil proceedings is necessary to protect the integrity of an ongoing state grand jury investigation into the contract selection process.
"I agree with their concerns. I understand their concerns," Kelley said of the state's reservations about possible witness tampering in the midst of simultaneous civil and criminal proceedings.
"It is a difficult task," the judge said. "They are moving forward at an accelerated pace. They need time to do what they're doing. They're not walking through it. They're running through it."
Unglesby, who sternly rejected any suggestion of witness tampering by CNSI, said an appeal of Kelley's order to the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal is a possibility.
"I don't think you have the authority to do that," he told the judge.
Kelley said the state is entitled to conduct its investigation "without interruption or compromise."
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration canceled CNSI's multiyear contract in late March after news broke of a federal investigation into the contract.
State Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein, who had been a CNSI executive, resigned a week later.
Unglesby said state prosecutors have yet to interview Greenstein or anyone with CNSI.
CNSI filed its suit May 6, and a special East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury was impaneled May 23. The state Attorney General's Office is conducting the probe.