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NATIONAL HOME LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY AND VETERANS LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/29/84)

decided: October 29, 1984.

NATIONAL HOME LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY AND VETERANS LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, INSURANCE DEPARTMENT, AND THE HONORABLE ANTHONY GEYELIN, ACTING INSURANCE COMMISSIONER, RESPONDENTS



Original jurisdiction in case of National Home Life Assurance Company and Veterans Life Insurance Company v. Insurance Department, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and The Honorable Anthony Geyelin, Acting Insurance Commissioner.

COUNSEL

John Havas, with him, S. Walter Foulkrod, III and James Reynolds, Jr., Foulkrod, Reynolds & Havas, for petitioners.

Michael L. Harvey, Deputy Attorney General, with him, Allen C. Warshaw, Chief, Litigation Section, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondents.

Judges Rogers, Craig and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 590]

National Home Life Assurance Company and Veterans Life Insurance Company have filed a petition for review in our original jurisdiction seeking to enjoin the Pennsylvania Insurance Department and Acting Insurance Commissioner Anthony Geyelin from conducting administrative proceedings pursuant to a show cause order which the department had issued to the two companies. Geyelin and the department have filed preliminary objections in the nature of a petition to dismiss for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, a suggestion of mootness*fn1 and a demurrer.

On February 2, 1984, the department issued a show cause order which alleged that the companies had violated the Unfair Insurance Practices Act, Act of July 22, 1974, P.L. 589, 40 P.S. ยงยง 1171.1-1171.15, by conducting

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 591]

    several mail solicitation campaigns designed to induce the misconception that the federal government either sponsored or endorsed the offered insurance.

The companies then filed this petition for review, seeking an injunction of the administrative process because Commissioner Geyelin and department counsel had allegedly commingled investigative, prosecutorial and adjudicative functions, thereby violating the companies' constitutional due process rights.

In their preliminary objections, the department and the commissioner first contend that the companies have available a full and adequate remedy at law, and therefore we should dismiss the petition for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.*fn2 We agree.

The law is well settled that a party may not challenge administrative decision-making through the vehicle of judicial review without first exhausting all administrative remedies. Canonsburg General Hospital v. Department of Health, 492 Pa. 68, 422 A.2d 141 (1980). "[P]remature interruption of the administrative process restricts the agency's opportunity to develop an adequate factual record, limits the agency in the exercise of its expertise and impedes the development of a cohesive body of law. . . ." Shenango Valley Osteopathic Hospital v. Department of Health, 499 Pa. 39, 47, 451 A.2d 434, 438 (1982).

The companies contend that the administrative remedy is inadequate here because of bias on the part of the commissioner, who has the power to preside at the ...


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