Woodford v. Commonw. of Penn. Ins. Dept.

In Woodford v. Commonw. of Penn. Ins. Dept.,  the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was called on to decide whether an insurance broker violated the state’s Insurance Department Act of 1921 by charging customers a non-refundable application fee. The Insurance Commissioner and a panel of the Commonwealth Court agreed that 40 P.S. §310.74(b) prohibited the fee. And the Supreme Court agreed. But before reaching its conclusion, the Court dealt with the Commonwealth Court’s determination that the standard set forth in Borough of Nanty-Glo v. American Surety Co. of New York, 163 A. 523 (Pa. 1932), does not apply in administrative proceedings. The Nanty-Glo rule generally holds that credibility determinations should be left to the finder of fact and should not be dealt with in the summary judgment context. The Commonwealth Court held that the rule applied only when deference was given to a jury’s determination of credibility. But in an administrative hearing, the Commonwealth Court held, the rule does not apply because there is no jury. The Supreme Court disagreed. Though the Court stopped short of saying that the Nanty-Glo rule does apply to administrative hearings generally, the Court noted that it “cannot agree with the Commonwealth Court’s conclusion that the Nanty-Glo rule has no place in the agency context[.]”

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