A federal judge ended the dispute between an insurance company and Florida’s insurance commissioner this week — for the moment. The judge dismissed the claim without prejudice, which means the insurance company can file again in the future. The case wasn’t about improper claim procedures or undue delay in paying claims. It was about an alleged personal vendetta.
The out-of-state company applied with the Office of Insurance Regulation to sell workers’ compensation insurance in Florida. The commissioner refused. The company appealed the decision and sued the commissioner.
Both the company and its owner filed the claim, alleging that the commissioner violated their constitutional rights. According to the lawsuit, the commissioner said the company was “untrustworthy” and “incompetent,” and he did so in public documents. The commissioner was motivated, the plaintiffs said, by “a deep hunger for revenge.”
The plaintiffs assert that the commissioner was getting even with the owner for his part in a dispute between the commissioner and another insurer during the 1990s. The second insurer had conducted an illegal investigation of the commissioner, then an industry coordinator with the OIR. His phone was tapped; the company hired a private investigator — all in an effort to get him fired.
That matter was settled in court, with the insurer paying the commissioner $2.55 million.
Some time after the second company had begun its illegal activities, the plaintiff in the current suit loaned the institution $5 million.
The commissioner said he was looking forward to the chance to answer these allegations. He was disappointed that the judge granted the plaintiffs’ motion to dismiss, though he realizes that any time a case is dismissed, the defendant wins in the public opinion arena.
The company’s appeal of the commissioner’s license denial confirmed the commissioner’s decision.
Source: Miami Herald, “Judge dismisses suit against Fla. insurance chief,” Bill Kaczor, Aug. 5, 2011Share