Two Texans, whose insurance licenses came in jeopardy in April by default order, appealed to the Texas Department of Insurance to reconsider the action. El Paso agent Salvador Villarreal Jr.’s case was reopened; Texarkana resident Tyrone T. Johnson did not fare as well on his application to be an adjuster.
The difference between the two cases may lie not only in how each went about making the request but also the underlying issues that triggered the disciplinary orders.
Neither Villarreal nor Johnson responded timely to a notice of hearing seeking to take disciplinary action against them. Both notices were mailed on March 1. Villarreal’s hearing was slated for June 22 and Johnson’s for April 12. Both were to respond in writing within 20 days to confirm their attendance at the hearings to be held by videoconference.
TDI set aside the April 7 default judgment against Villarreal. After receiving notice of his license revocation, Villarreal engaged an attorney, who is unnamed in TDI’s May 28 order that reopened the case. The attorney followed TDI’s rules contained in the Texas Administrative Code and gave a credible reason for the agent’s failure to respond, indicating that the failure to file a written response or to attend the hearing was neither intentional nor the result of conscious indifference.
The attorney filed two motions, one to set aside the default judgment and reopen the record and another for rehearing, with guidelines for such motions, the former, contained in the 28 TAC, Section 1.89 and the latter in the Governmental Code, Section 2001.146.
The attorney explained that Villarreal did not become aware of the notice of hearing in time to respond because he was preoccupied with the birth of his child.
Villarreal’s wife gave birth on Sunday, March 7. Notice of the upcoming hearing was delivered to Villarreal’s business office on Thursday, March 4. The agency staff “did not have the sense, or did not realize the time sensitive nature of the correspondence and did not notify” Villarreal of the correspondence, said the attorney’s motion. The motion went on to say that Villarreal didn’t learn about the hearing until after the default decision revoking his license arrived in the mail.
The original petition against Villarreal was filed with the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) on March 1. This petition set out the basis for TDI seeking to revoke Villarreal’s license. It states that all of Villarreal’s appointments with Allstate companies were terminated following an investigation by Allstate into dishonest conduct and falsification of documents. Allstate found that between December 2019 and February 2020, Villarreal uploaded false documents to obtain discounts for customers, then provided the company misleading information, attempting to cover up the falsity of the documents. The loss of the Allstate appointments left Villarreal with no active appointments.
In granting the motion to reopen the case, TDI denied the motion for rehearing, as it became moot by the granting of the first motion. The May 28 order granting the reopening of the case indicated that a new hearing date will be set. The reopening of the case does not assure a different outcome for Villarreal.
In the Johnson case, TDI denied his request to set aside the April 1 default order against him. On April 11, Johnson sent an email to TDI requesting that the April 12 hearing be held. However his deadline for responding to the March 1 notice had passed. Further, Johnson’s email request of April 11 contained no explanation that might cause either a reopening of the case or a rehearing even though an explanation is required for both. Johnson made the request himself, not through an attorney. The videoconference hearing originally set for April 12 was not held.
The March 1 hearing notice mailed to Johnson did not include notice of the Texas rules requiring an explanation, nor did it provide the 28 TAC citation or Government Code citation where the requirements for both motions can be found.
The original petition against Johnson was filed with SOAH on Jan. 22. In it, TDI lays out its case for denying Johnson’s application for an all lines adjuster license.
Included in the petition’s factual allegations, TDI notes that Johnson applied for the license in early 2019. TDI proposed to deny the application more than a year later, on March 4, 2020, basing its decision on Johnson’s criminal history. On April 3, 2020, Johnson requested a hearing.
TDI’s recitation of Johnson’s crimes in the original petition include a string of felony marijuana and other dangerous drug convictions from 1998 to 2013 in Texas and Louisiana, some of which resulted in confinement. Most recently, in 2018, he was released from a Louisiana prison and placed on parole. He remains on parole at this time.
TDI also cited as evidence of his dishonesty Johnson’s failure to notify various parole and probation agencies of his current address, in violation of the parole or probation orders.