Insurance Corporation of America v. Hulett, 851 F.2d 360 (9th Cir. 1988)

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US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - 851 F.2d 360 (9th Cir. 1988)

INSURANCE CORPORATION OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Stanley HULETT, President, California Public UtilitiesCommission, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 87-6565.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Submitted May 27, 1988.

Decided June 27, 1988.

Before HUG, BRUNETTI and NOONAN, Circuit Judges.


Insurance Corporation of America ("ICA") appeals an order by the United States District Court for the Central District of California denying ICA's request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against defendants suspending the operating authority of certain limousine operators. These operators are threatened with suspension because they are insured by ICA which has failed to comply with the state regulation of insurance companies. ICA alleges that the district court's denial of its motion does not give full faith and credit to two court orders, dated 1911 and 1914 respectively, which precluded state regulation of ICA.

The bases of ICA's suit are two decrees attached to its complaint. The first is dated December 8, 1911 and is headed, "In the United States Circuit Court of Delaware at Dover, Delaware." It is signed by "Ben Green, Substitute Judge." The second decree, dated February 26, 1914, is similarly captioned and similarly signed. These decrees purport to establish that certain insurance companies are free from any state or federal regulations.

The decrees on their face are not authentic. There was no such court as the "United States Circuit Court of Delaware." There was no such office as "Substitute Judge." There was not, in the period 1911-1914, any federal judge known as "Ben Green." See Judges of the United States (2 ed.).

Even if the orders were authentic, they would not preclude regulation today by the State of California. The McCarran-Ferguson Act enacted in 1944 provided that:

The business of insurance and every person engaged therein, shall be subject to the laws of the several states which relate to the regulation or taxation of such business. 15 U.S.C.A. Sec. 1012(a).

If ICA was "grandfathered" under legislation in effect in 1914, it was not so exempt under this Act of 1944. The orders refer to ICA as a "grandfathered" corporation without citing any authority for this status. That a court in 1914 might have determined that an insurance company was "grandfathered" under statutes in effect at the time, has no bearing on whether the company is subject to regulation under statutes in effect today. ICA has offered no proof that the modern statutory scheme exempts it from regulation.