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SIDNEY REITER v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (05/05/87)

decided: May 5, 1987.

SIDNEY REITER, T/A RIDER INSURANCE SERVICE, INC., PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Acting Insurance Commissioner in the case of In Re: Sidney Reiter, t/a Rider Insurance Service, Inc., Docket No. P85-2-6.

COUNSEL

Ronald Jay Smolow, for petitioner.

James A. M. Zarrella, Assistant Counsel, with him, Linda J. Wells, Chief of Litigation and M. Hannah Leavitt, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges MacPhail and Barry, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 105 Pa. Commw. Page 624]

Sidney Reiter, t/a Rider Insurance Service, Inc. (Petitioner) has appealed from an order of the Acting Insurance Commissioner which suspended Petitioner's insurance agent's license and required Petitioner, inter alia, to cease and desist from denying access to his business records by Insurance Department investigators and to pay a $1,000.00 civil penalty. The sole basis for the Commissioner's order was Petitioner's refusal to allow Department investigators to conduct a search of his business records.

The Commissioner's fact findings, which are supported by substantial evidence, reflect that on February 11, 1985, two Department investigators visited Petitioner's place of business and asked to inspect Petitioner's "insurance records, including receipts, checkbooks, cancelled checks, finance arrangements and applications for the Pennsylvania Automobile Insurance Plan" dating from June 1, 1984. Fact Finding No. 3. It is undisputed that the investigators gave no prior notice of their inspection call, had obtained no subpoena or warrant for the search and were not acting on the basis of any specific complaint regarding Petitioner.

At the time of this request, Petitioner was a licensed and active insurance agent, although his company,

[ 105 Pa. Commw. Page 625]

Rider Insurance Service, Inc., had filed a certificate of election to dissolve with the Corporation Bureau of the Department of State on August 2, 1984.*fn1 Petitioner alleges that he sold his insurance agency to Stanley Weiss on August 1, 1984. Petitioner refused to grant the investigators access to his records on February 11. The investigators returned to Petitioner's office on February 12, 1985 and were offered access to two boxes of records. The investigators declined to review these records based on their opinion that the files contained therein constituted only a part of the requested records.

On appeal, Petitioner first argues that since insurance records were offered to the investigators on February 12, the Commissioner erroneously found a denial of access to the pertinent records. Testimony given by the investigators involved, however, reveals that on February 11, 1985 they requested access to all insurance business records from June 1, 1984 to date. Both investigators testified that in their opinion the two boxes offered for their inspection on February 12 could not have contained a complete compilation of the business' records. In fact, there was an indication by Petitioner that the contents of the boxes were limited to Automobile Insurance Plan (AIP) applications from August 1, 1984 to the date of the investigators' request. Thus, we conclude that the Commissioner's finding of a denial of access to the requested business records is supported by the record.

In a similar vein, Petitioner next argues that since Rider Insurance Service, Inc. filed an election to dissolve on August 2, 1984, the investigators could not have known, ...


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