South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

CAPTION:
SCDOI vs. Curtis E. Grant

AGENCY:
South Carolina Department of Insurance

PARTIES:
Petitioners:
South Carolina Department of Insurance

Respondents:
Curtis E. Grant
 
DOCKET NUMBER:
96-ALJ-09-0093-CC

APPEARANCES:
For the Petitioner: S. Phillip Lenski, Esquire

For the Respondent: Pro Se (Failed to appear at the hearing)
 

ORDERS:

ORDER AND DECISION

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

The South Carolina Department of Insurance (Department) sought a contested case hearing in accordance with the written request by Curtis E. Grant (Grant) pertaining to the Department's decision to revoke his insurance agent's license.

The hearing was held before me on April 2, 1996, at the Administrative Law Judge Division Offices, Columbia, South Carolina. Present at the hearing were S. Phillip Lenski, Esquire, representing the Department, and Richard D. Parks, with Capital Security Life Insurance Company (Employer). Mr. Grant failed to appear at the hearing, and failed to offer a sufficient reason to grant a continuance, as required by Rule l9B of the Rules of Procedure for the Administrative Law Judge Division (1995).

The Department has met its burden of proof in showing that Respondent's resident individual insurance agent's license may be revoked.



ISSUE

Whether sufficient grounds exist to revoke Respondent's State of South Carolina resident individual insurance agent's license?



FINDINGS OF FACT

Having carefully considered all evidence presented at the hearing in this matter, I find, by a preponderance of the evidence, the following facts:

1. This Division has personal and subject matter jurisdiction.

2. Notice of the date, time, place and nature of the hearing was timely given to

all parties.

3. The Respondent is a licensed State of South Carolina resident insurance agent.

4. On March 20, 1995, Respondent's employment with Capital Security Life

insurance Company was terminated.

5. At that time, Respondent failed to turn over to his employee, or satisfactorily account to it for $2,244.77 in debit life insurance premiums and debit accident and health insurance premiums that he had collected from residents of South Carolina.

6. Prior to his termination, Respondent admitted to his supervisor at Capital Security Life Insurance Company, Mr. Richard D. Parks, that he had failed to remit the $2,244.77 in insurance premiums he had collected.

7. The Department provided Grant with 10 days' written notice of its intent to revoke his license through a letter dated November 14, 1995.

8. Respondent requested a hearing to review the intended decision of the Department on November 21, 1995.



DISCUSSION

The Administrative Law Judge Division's (Division) jurisdiction to hear this matter is found in two sections of the Administrative Procedures Act and one section of the insurance laws. S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-600(B) (Supp. 1995) grants general jurisdiction to the Division over all hearings of contested cases as defined by § 1-23-310 (Supp. 1995) where such hearings involve an executive branch department and where a single officer is authorized or permitted by law or regulation to hear and decide such cases. Section 1-23-310(2) includes licensing issues in its definition of a "contested case."

S.C. Code Ann. § 38-43-130 (Supp. 1995) states that the Director of the Department of Insurance (Director) may revoke an agent's license after giving the agent ten days' notice, when it appears that the agent has "deceived or dealt unjustly with the citizens of this State," as the term is defined in the statute. Nowhere in the statute is a hearing before the Director or his designee contemplated or required. In fact, language requiring a hearing before the Director was expressly removed from the statute with the 1993 enactment of § 38-43-130, and replaced with language requiring "notice of a hearing before the Administrative Law Judge Division." The intent of § 38-43-130, appears to afford to the Division contested case jurisdiction over revocation/suspension issues of insurance agent licenses and, upon request by an agent who has been charged with a violation of this statute, an opportunity for a fair hearing before an administrative law judge. However, the statute further contemplates that the decision to revoke or suspend the license or impose a fine rests with the Director of the Department.

Before any action against an agent may be taken by the Director, the Department has the burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that an individual's insurance agent's license should be revoked. Proof of deceiving or dealing unjustly with a citizen of South Carolina includes the failure to transmit promptly or pay all or a portion of the amount of an insurance premium when an agent has received payment from a customer on behalf of the insured. In this case, the Department presented documentary evidence substantiating that Respondent failed to remit $2,244.77 in premium payments to Capital Security Life Insurance Company which he had collected from their insureds. Additionally, the Department presented testimony that Respondent admitted to his supervisor that he failed to remit the collected premium payments.



CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

Based upon the foregoing Findings of Fact and Discussion, I conclude the following as a matter of law:

1. The Division has jurisdiction to hear contested cases involving insurance agent licensing issues. S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-600(B) (Supp. 1995); 1-23-310 (Supp. 1995); and S.C. Code Ann. § 38-43-130 (Supp. 1995).

2. The Director may revoke an insurance agent's license when that agent has wilfully deceived or dealt unjustly with the citizens of this State. S.C. Code Ann. § 38-43130 (Supp. 1995).

3. The failure of an insurance agent to transmit promptly or pay all or a portion of the amount of an insurance premium payment when the agent has received payment from a customer constitutes "willfully deceiving or dealing unjustly with the citizens of this State" pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 38-43-130 (Supp. 1995).

4. The Department has met its burden of proof in showing that Respondent willfully deceived or dealt unjustly with the citizens of South Carolina by failing to remit to Capital Security Life Insurance Company $2,244.77 in premium payments he collected from its insureds.



ORDER

Based upon the foregoing Findings of Fact, Discussion, and Conclusions of Law, it is hereby

ORDERED that the Department has met its burden of proof in showing that Respondent is in violation of § 38-43-130 (Supp. 1995) and may take appropriate action pursuant to its terms to revoke the State of South Carolina resident individual insurance agent's license of Curtis E. Grant.

AND IT IS SO ORDERED.

_________________________________

MARVIN F. KITTRELL

Chief Judge

Columbia, South Carolina

May 9, 1996


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