512 S.E.2d 497 (S.C. 1999), Porter v. Jedziniak

Citation:512 S.E.2d 497, 334 S.C. 16
Party Name:Philip S. PORTER, Consumer Advocate for the State of South Carolina, Petitioner, v. Lee P. JEDZINIAK, Director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance, and the South Carolina Department of Insurance, Respondents.
Case Date:January 22, 1999
Court:Supreme Court of South Carolina
 
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Page 497

512 S.E.2d 497 (S.C. 1999)

334 S.C. 16

Philip S. PORTER, Consumer Advocate for the State of South

Carolina, Petitioner,

v.

Lee P. JEDZINIAK, Director of the South Carolina Department

of Insurance, and the South Carolina Department of

Insurance, Respondents.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

January 22, 1999

[334 S.C. 17] ORDER

This matter is before the Court on a petition for a writ of mandamus. Because of the exigencies of time, we agreed to entertain this matter in the Court's original jurisdiction and heard oral arguments of the parties.

Legislation which will significantly alter the South Carolina system of automobile insurance is set to go into effect on March 1, 1999. See 1997 S.C.Acts 154. At issue in this matter is one aspect of this legislation which abolishes the requirement of public notice when automobile insurers request a rate increase of seven per cent or less. See S.C.Code Ann. § 38-73-910(A) and (B) (Supp.1998). Until February 28, 1999, however, the current version of section 38-73-910 requires that before a rate increase is granted, public notice must be given at least thirty (30) days in advance of the [334 S.C. 18] insurer's proposed effective date. S.C.Code Ann. § 38-73-910 (Supp.1998).

In anticipation of the new rating system, several automobile insurers have filed for rate increases with a proposed effective date of March 1, 1999. Respondents have taken the position that the new statute applies to these filings, and therefore, public notice is not required. The Consumer Advocate (petitioner) has filed a petition for a writ of mandamus requesting this Court to direct respondents to issue notices of these filings, which in turn would trigger rights to public hearings on the proposed rate increases. Respondents have filed a return opposing the petition.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and the National Association of Independent Insurers have jointly filed a petition for leave to appear as amici curiae. In addition, the American Insurance Association has filed a petition for leave to appear as amicus curiae. The South Carolina Association of Auto Insurance Agents has also filed a petition for leave to appear as amicus curiae.

The primary purpose of a writ of mandamus is to enforce an established right and to enforce a corresponding imperative duty created or imposed by law. Willimon

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