South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
Edgar A. Brown building 1205 Pendleton St., Suite 224 Columbia, SC 29201 Voice: (803) 734-0550

SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

CAPTION:
SCDOI vs. Ralph R. Woodbury

AGENCY:
South Carolina Department of Insurance

PARTIES:
Petitioner:
South Carolina Department of Insurance

Respondent:
Ralph R. Woodbury
 
DOCKET NUMBER:
04-ALJ-09-0151-CC

APPEARANCES:
Joseph D. McMaster, Esquire, for Petitioner

Ralph R. Woodbury, Pro Se, Respondent
 

ORDERS:

FINAL ORDER AND DECISION

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

This matter comes before this tribunal pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-600(B) and 38-43-130 (Supp. 2003) upon Respondent’s request for a contested case hearing regarding Petitioner’s decision to revoke Respondent’s resident insurance agent’s license. The South Carolina Department of Insurance seeks revocation of Respondent’s license for allegedly violating South Carolina’s insurance laws because of his guilty plea to drug possession in General Sessions Court of Florence County in 2003. A contested case hearing was held September 15, 2004 at the Administrative Law Court. The parties and counsel were present as indicated.

Petitioner acknowledged that under the terms of the statute, the Department has little discretion concerning the revocation of a license following a conviction or guilty plea. Petitioner also acknowledged, however, that the Department would entertain the Respondent’s request to be reinstated. Thus, because of the Respondent’s remorse, demeanor, and support of his family and employer for rehabilitation, Petitioner’s request that Respondent’s license be revoked is denied.

FINDINGS OF FACT

Having carefully considered all testimony, exhibits, and arguments presented at the hearing of this matter, and taking into account the credibility and accuracy of the evidence, I make the following findings of fact by a preponderance of the evidence:

1.Respondent was employed with Safe Auto Insurance Company (Safe Auto) as an agent in 2003.

2.On April 21, 2003, Respondent pled guilty in Florence County Court of General Sessions to Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute. He was sentenced to two years in jail and a two thousand five hundred dollar fine, which was suspended to two years probation and a fine of two hundred and fifty dollars, plus costs.

3.The Respondent has served his probationary period and has not had any further trouble with the law. He has the support of his family and his employer to return to work.

4.I find the Respondent and his mother very credible and understanding of the necessity to work hard to put this situation behind him.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

South Carolina Code Ann. Section 38-43-130 (A) (Supp. 2003) states that “[t]he director or his designee may place on probation, revoke, or suspend a producer’s license . . . when it appears that a producer has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, has violated this title or any regulation promulgated by the department, or has willfully deceived or dealt unjustly with the citizens of this State.” Subsection (B) of the same section incorporates guilty pleas into “convicted.” This case comes to the ALC as a contested case with a de novo review of the matter. See e.g. Brown v. SC DHEC, 348 S.C. 507, 512 560 S.E.2d 410, 413 (2002). As such, the ALC is not bound by the findings of the Department. Id. I find the Respondent a very credible and sincere witness, and believe that he should be reinstated as an insurance agent.

ORDER

Based on the evidence before me, including the statement of Safe Auto that they would be willing to employ Respondent again should he be reinstated, the request of the Respondent and his mother that the Respondent be given a second chance, and the statement by counsel for the Petitioner that they would entertain a request to reinstate the Respondent, I find that Petitioner’s request that Respondent’s insurance agent’s license be revoked for violating S.C. Code Ann. § 38-43-130(A) is denied.

AND IT IS SO ORDERED.

___________________________________

CAROLYN C. MATTHEWS

Administrative Law Judge

February 21, 2005

Columbia, South Carolina


Brown Bldg.

 

 

 

 

 

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