Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, in case of In Re: B. G. Balmer and Company, Docket No. P86-1-17.
Harvey Bartle, III, Dechert, Price & Rhoads, for petitioner.
James A. M. Zarrella, Assistant Counsel, with him, Terrance J. Fitzpatrick, Chief of Litigation, and Linda J. Wells, Chief Counsel, for respondent.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Barry and Colins, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.
[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 240]
B. G. Balmer & Company, Inc. (Balmer), appeals a Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner's*fn1 (Commissioner) adjudication suspending its insurance business license for fifteen days, ordering it to cease and desist from unfair practices, and directing restitution pursuant to the Pennsylvania Unfair Insurance Practices Act (UIPA).*fn2 We affirm.*fn3
The Insurance Department initiated an action against Balmer by filing an order to show cause,*fn4 alleging
[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 241]
that Balmer violated Section 4 and 5(a)(1)(i) *fn5 of the UIPA by charging a hidden fee to a corporate client, The Saunders House. The Commissioner denied Balmer's subsequent motion for summary judgment which alleged that the Department's action was time-barred under Section 5524(5) of the Judicial Code.*fn6 After a hearing, the Commissioner found that Balmer had charged Saunders House for risk management services which were neither contracted for nor received. The Commissioner concluded that the fee was listed as a premium in an effort to deceive Saunders House and imposed the aforementioned sanctions.
Balmer initially argues that the Insurance Department's enforcement proceeding is time-barred under Section 5524(5) of the Judicial Code. We disagree.
Section 5524(5) of the Judicial Code provides a two-year limitation for an action upon a statute for a civil penalty or forfeiture. Section 11 of the UIPA*fn7 authorizes only courts to impose civil penalties. Because the Commissioner was acting under his limited power to impose administrative penalties pursuant to Section 9 of the
[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 242]
UIPA,*fn8 we hold that Balmer's reliance on Section 5524(5) of the Judicial ...