Elmore v. Lanier, 544

Decision Date20 June 1967
Docket NumberNo. 544,544
Citation270 N.C. 674,155 S.E.2d 114
CourtNorth Carolina Supreme Court
PartiesJohn I. ELMORE v. Edwin S. LANIER, Commissioner of Insurance.

Thos. J. White, Kinston, for plaintiff.

Howard E. Manning, Raleigh, Special Counsel to the Department of Insurance, T. Wade Bruton, Atty. Gen., by Bernard A. Harrell, Asst. Atty. Gen., for defendant.

PLESS, Justice.

The pertinent sections of Chapter 58 of the General Statutes--Insurance--are summarized as follows:

G.S. § 58--42 provides that when the Commissioner of Insurance is satisfied that any insurance agent has willfully violated any of the insurance laws of the State or willfully misrepresented any policy of insurance, or willfully deceived any person in regard to any insurance policy, or has failed to pay over any money or property in his hands belonging to an insurance company, the Commissioner may immediately suspend his licenses, giving the licensee ten days' notice of the charges and of a hearing thereon; and if, upon the hearing, the Commissioner finds any of the above violations, he shall specifically set out such finding and revoke the license of the agent. The agent may have the revocation reviewed as provided in G.S. § 58--9.3 by filing a petition in the Superior Court of Wake County within thirty (30) days from the date a copy of the order is delivered to the petitioner. The cause will be heard by the trial judge as a civil case, upon transcript of the record, for review of findings of fact and errors of law only, and the order may be affirmed or set aside as the record may justify. The order of the superior court is subject to appeal to the Supreme Court, by any party to the action, as in other civil cases.

Legislation of this type has become necessary in many fields, and so a system of administrative procedure has been instituted in which matters of regulation and control may, and must be, tried by properly established commissions and agencies that are peculiarly qualified for the purpose. Thus, we have the Workmen's Compensation Commission, the Utilities Commission, and the Insurance Commission which are similarly empowered to hear and determine controversies in their respective fields. Since practically every case originating in the courts must, as a matter of absolute right, be tried by a jury--unless all parties waive it--it has been found more efficient and practical to use the administrative process in these instances. This procedure is particularly efficient when the subject of inquiry is of a very technical nature, or involves the analysis of many records. After the hearings before the agencies have been conducted, the statute gives any aggrieved party his 'day in court' by appeal or other recognized procedure.

To permit the interruption and cessation of proceedings before a commission by untimely and premature intervention by the courts would completely destroy the efficiency, effectiveness, and purpose of the administrative agencies. To allow it would mean that in some instances a case might pend in the courts until a jury trial could be held, which would frequently cause unjustified delay, and result in thwarting the purpose for which the administrative investigation was established, and the constitutionality of the proceedings may not be tested except in rare instances--not applicable here--until the matter has reached the courts for review.

In State ex rel. Summrell v. Carolina-Virginia Racing Association, 239 N.C. 591, 80 S.E.2d 638, Bobbitt, J., speaking for the Court, said:

'Where a resident and citizen seeks to enjoin public officials from putting into effect the provisions of a statute enacted by the General Assembly on the ground that the statute is unconstitutional and is therefore void, it is held that he is not entitled to injunctive relief in the absence of allegations and proof that he will suffer direct injury, such as a deprivation of a constitutionally guaranteed personal right or an invasion of his property rights. In the absence of such allegation and proof the Court will not pass on the constitutionality of the statute. Wood v. Braswell, 192 N.C. 588, 135 S.E. 529; Newman v. Watkins, 208 N.C. 675, 182 S.E. 453.'

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16 cases
  • Peoples, In re
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • December 29, 1978
    ...by the cases cited above. But we have considered a similar issue in the context of a license revocation hearing. In Elmore v. Lanier, 270 N.C. 674, 155 S.E.2d 114 (1967) the Commissioner of Insurance, acting under the authority of G.S. 58-42, notified plaintiff on 25 January 1967 that it wa......
  • Lackey v. North Carolina Dept. of Human Resources, Div. of Medical Assistance
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • July 13, 1982
    ...agencies was the necessity for the supervision and experience of specialists in difficult and complicated fields. See Elmore v. Lanier, 270 N.C. 674, 155 S.E.2d 114 (1967); 1 Am.Jur.2d, Administrative Law § 12 The complex area of disability determinations under the Social Security Act is in......
  • Presnell v. Pell
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • December 4, 1979
    ...the courts would completely destroy the efficiency, effectiveness, and purpose of the administrative agencies." Elmore v. Lanier, 270 N.C. 674, 678, 155 S.E.2d 114, 116 (1967); See also McKart v. United States, 395 U.S. 185, 193-95, 89 S.Ct. 1657, 23 L.Ed.2d 194 The avoidance of untimely in......
  • Granville County Bd. of Com'rs v. North Carolina Hazardous Waste Management Com'n
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • August 14, 1991
    ...v. Reidsville, 243 N.C. 405, 407, 90 S.E.2d 700 [1956]. Id. 252 N.C. at 811-12, 115 S.E.2d at 24-25; see also Elmore v. Lanier, 270 N.C. 674, 678, 155 S.E.2d 114, 116 (1967) ("To permit the interruption and cessation of proceedings before a commission by untimely and premature intervention ......
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