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AMERICAN FAMILY LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY COLUMBUS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (05/08/80)

decided: May 8, 1980.

AMERICAN FAMILY LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY OF COLUMBUS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, INSURANCE DEPARTMENT AND HARVEY BARTLE, III, INSURANCE COMMISSIONER, RESPONDENTS



Original jurisdiction in case of American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Insurance Department and Harvey Bartle, III, Insurance Commissioner.

COUNSEL

Thomas N. O'Neill, Jr., with him David N. Hofstein, and Robert M. Goldich, Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, for petitioner.

J. Sinclair Long, with him Albert J. Strohecker, III, Assistant Attorneys General and Edward Biester, Jr., Attorney General, for respondent.

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

Author: Craig

[ 51 Pa. Commw. Page 248]

Petitioner American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, in an equity action addressed to our original jurisdiction, has asked us to enjoin the Insurance Commissioner from enforcing regulations which establish minimum standards for individual accident and sickness insurance policies*fn1 promulgated under the Individual Accident and Sickness Insurance Minimum Standards Act (Act),*fn2 and to declare portions of that Act void, on the ground that the regulations are a product of an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power by the Act.

Presently before us for decision are the preliminary objections of the Commissioner, primarily seeking to have the complaint dismissed on the ground that our original jurisdiction in equity is not appropriate because an adequate and useful statutory remedy is available and has not been pursued.

[ 51 Pa. Commw. Page 249]

The Commissioner adopted the questioned regulations on June 24, 1978, making them effective on July 24, 1979, one year and thirty days later.

Petitioner's averments admit that it was not until July, 1979, shortly before the effective date of the regulations, that petitioner mailed its proposed cancer insurance policy forms to the Commissioner for approval. When approval was not granted by July 24, 1979, petitioner brought this action and also presented a motion for preliminary injunction, asking this court to enjoin enforcement of the regulations against those policy forms. After hearing, a preliminary injunction was denied primarily because petitioner's failure to submit its policy forms for consideration during the one-year grace period had demonstrated that such immediacy of need as would warrant a preliminary injunction was not present.*fn3

The purpose of the Act, as stated in Section 1, is to provide standardization and simplification of terms

[ 51 Pa. Commw. Page 250]

    and coverages in individual accident and health insurance policies, to eliminate misleading provisions and to provide for ...


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