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JOHN NAGLE ET AL. v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/04/80)

decided: January 4, 1980.

JOHN NAGLE ET AL., PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, INSURANCE DEPARTMENT EX REL. WILLIAM J. SHEPPARD, INSURANCE COMMISSIONER, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Insurance Commissioner in case of In Re: Petition for Review filed August 4, 1976, on behalf of John Nagle et al. regarding Objections to Workmen's Compensation Rate Classification, Docket No. WC76-8-3.

COUNSEL

Leonard Schaeffer, with him James D. Rosen, Pechner, Dorfman, Wolffe, Rounick & Cabot, for petitioners.

David T. Kluz, Assistant Attorney General, with him John H. Isom, Assistant Attorney General and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for respondent.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers, Blatt, DiSalle and MacPhail. Judges Mencer and Craig did not participate. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.

Author: Bowman

[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 296]

Petitioners here are three individuals, a corporation and a coal haulers association (Petitioners) who have filed a petition for review of an August 10, 1977 order of the Insurance Commissioner (Commissioner) which failed to grant part of the relief they sought in challenging a prior approved insurance premium rate classification. The facts are not in dispute.

Pursuant to changes brought about by the Black Lung Benefits Act, 30 U.S.C. § 901 et seq., and amendments to The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act*fn1 by Act of December 6, 1972, P.L. 1627, 77 P.S. § 27.1(q), the Insurance Department in 1973 approved a rate schedule filed by the Coal Mine Compensation Rating Bureau of Pennsylvania (Bureau)*fn2 for coal

[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 297]

    mine occupational disease insurance which for classification purposes included within black lung coverage non-mining employees such as Petitioners' truck drivers who haul coal exclusively from coal mines and tipples and which applied to the employers of such non-mining truck drivers the same rate paid by employers of surface miners.*fn3

By complaint filed with the Insurance Department on August 4, 1976, Petitioners challenged the Commissioner's approval of the Bureau's classification.*fn4 After an evidentiary hearing and the submission of briefs, the Commissioner, by order of February 7, 1977 (1) withdrew approval of the rate plan and classification system for Petitioners and other trucking companies

[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 298]

    whose employes haul coal exclusively from coal mines or tipples, (2) ordered continued payment of premiums by the trucking companies at "currently effective" rates,*fn5 (3) ordered insurers to hold in escrow premiums collected after February 7, 1977, (4) ordered the Bureau to reevaluate the rate classification of coal-hauling companies and to report to the Commissioner a new plan within 60 days, and (5) announced that the finally approved rating plan would be implemented retroactively from the date of final resolution of the matter to February 7, 1977.

On April 18, 1977, the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau, having assumed responsibility for reevaluating the rate classification from the Bureau,*fn6 formally filed with the Commissioner an occupational disease rate for coal haulers and truckers of $2.35, which rate was approved by the Commissioner on June 29, 1977.*fn7 On August 10, 1977, the Commissioner took the ...


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