STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY v. GARAMENDI

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Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 5, California.

STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. John GARAMENDI, as Insurance Commissioner, etc., Defendant and Respondent.

No. B059086.

Decided: December 17, 1992

Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe, Paul Alexander, Victoria Collman Brown, Julie A. Gilman, Katherine M. Basile, Joyce M. Cartun, Palo Alto, Buchalter, Nemer, Fields & Younger, Leonard D. Venger, Barger & Wolen, Kent R. Keller, Robert W. Hogeboom, Steven H. Weinstein, Audrey M. Lyness and John C. Holmes, Los Angeles, for plaintiffs and appellants. Strumwasser & Woocher, Michael J. Strumwasser and Fredric D. Woocher, Santa Monica, for defendant and respondent.

This appeal is related to the appeal in Safeco, et al. v. Garamendi (1992) 11 Cal.App.4th 1141, 14 Cal.Rptr.2d 621 and pursuant to a request to consolidate the appeals, we have ordered the two appeals to be considered concurrently.   In the Safeco appeal, the insurers appealed the dismissal of their judicial challenge to the former Insurance Commissioner's amended decision of June 15, 1990.   On the other hand, in the present appeal by State Farm and other insurers, the insurers appeal from the superior court's order of April 8, 1991, which denied their request 1 to enjoin the new commissioner from proceeding with new rate component determination hearings and thus to adhere to the former commissioner's amended decision of June 15, 1990.

The parties in both the Safeco and the State Farm appeals have coordinated their appeals and appear thoroughly familiar with each party's case.   Particularly in view of the coordinated nature of these appeals and our extended procedural and factual discussion and legal analysis in the Safeco appeal, a summary opinion in the present appeal is appropriate.

Suffice it to say, as more thoroughly explained in the Safeco opinion, while a state administrative agency which renders an adjudicatory decision, which is final by its own terms, may have no jurisdiction to redecide those same facts as to those same parties after time for administrative modification or rehearing has expired (see Heap v. City of Los Angeles (1936) 6 Cal.2d 405, 407–408, 57 P.2d 1323), the amended decision of June 15, 1990, at issue here was not adjudicatory.   Rather, because the amended decision did not address specific issues as to specific insurers but developed general principles to be applied in future cases, the amended decision was an exercise in quasi-legislative rate-making (see Strumsky v. San Diego County Employees Retirement Assn. (1974) 11 Cal.3d 28, 34–35, fn. 2, 112 Cal.Rptr. 805, 520 P.2d 29;  Dominey v. Department of Personnel Administration (1988) 205 Cal.App.3d 729, 736–738, 252 Cal.Rptr. 620) and, as such, was always open to rescission, correction or modification by the new commissioner.  (Olive Proration etc. Com. v. Agri. etc. Com. (1941) 17 Cal.2d 204, 208–209, 109 P.2d 918;  see Hollywood Circle, Inc. v. Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (1961) 55 Cal.2d 728, 732, 13 Cal.Rptr. 104, 361 P.2d 712.)   We therefore decline the insurers' invitation essentially to bind the new commissioner to the never-implemented policies of his predecessor, policies even many of the same insurers have contended are erroneous.

The order under review is affirmed.

FOOTNOTES

1.   The insurers in the present appeal filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief and a petition for a writ of mandate challenging the right of the Commissioner to ignore and redecide various rate-making determinations in the amended decision.

BOREN, Associate Justice.

TURNER, P.J., and GRIGNON, J., concur.