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|Monday, November 20, 1995
Quackenbush Vows Action Against No-Shows;
By: THOMAS MULLIGAN
"The commissioner doesn't have the authority to subpoena people outside California," said James Woods, a San Francisco lawyer representing 15 of the companies. "Trying to yank people across the country on Thanksgiving Eve--it's just not the American way," he said.
Nevertheless, Woods said his clients would send representatives who would be empowered to negotiate on the companies' behalf if Insurance Department officials make legitimate settlement offers.
Other lawyers accused the department of being the source of delay.
"Our clients have been negotiating for months and months," said David Hauge, a Los Angeles lawyer representing six insurers. "In some cases, the department hasn't gotten back to us on our latest offer."
When he took office last January, Quackenbush promised to have all remaining Proposition 103 rebates into the hands of policyholders by July 1. He has settled two-thirds of the cases that faced him at that time, but the remainder have proved more stubborn to resolve than he expected.
The 1988 insurance rollback initiative requires property insurers to rebate "excess" premiums generated during 1989. The initiative was finally upheld by California's highest court in 1994, and since then state officials have been trying to enforce it.
Quackenbush aides have said they hope that the awkward timing of the scheduling conferences--dubbed the "turkey shoot" by some wags--might prompt the companies to negotiate more energetically.
"Just as noncompliance with Proposition 103 has its consequences, so too will ignoring a legally executed subpoena," Quackenbush said last week in threatening contempt actions against the no-shows.
Quackenbush "is trying to spin this as him taking on the big, bad insurance companies, but we've sent him data that he hasn't even replied to," said San Francisco lawyer Gary Fontana. Fontana added that one of his legal associates--and not company executives--will represent his six insurer clients at the conferences.
The largest of the remaining holdouts are State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.
and Farmers Insurance Group, California's first- and third-largest property-casualty
Copyright (c) 1995 Times Mirror Company
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