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HomeNewsArchivesJUDGE ROSS FINDS LT. GOV. JAMES IN CONTEMPT

JUDGE ROSS FINDS LT. GOV. JAMES IN CONTEMPT

Nov. 15, 2001 — Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II and the director of the Division of Banking and Insurance within his office have been found in contempt of court by Territorial Court Judge Edgar Ross for failing to comply with an earlier court ruling allowing an insurance company to conduct business.
If "disobedience" of the order continues, Ross said, he will make James personally compensate Thomas Fitzsimmons, owner of St. Croix Insurance, for damages.
In a Nov. 10 order, Ross castigated James and Maryleen Thomas, the Banking and Insurance director, for not issuing a solicitor license to an agent working for St. Croix Insurance and for giving ambiguous advice to the public about whether the company was licensed to do business in the territory. As lieutenant governor, James also serves as the commissioner of Banking and Insurance.
In June, after disagreements between Fitzsimmons and officials at Banking and Insurance prompted the insurance division to refuse to renew St. Croix Insurance's license, James issued an order that the company cease and desist from doing business.
Fitzsimmons appealed the order, which Ross stayed on July 13; this allowed the company to continue doing business pending the appeal.
Meantime, an employee of the insurance firm went to Banking and Insurance to obtain his solicitor's license. According to court documents, the employee was denied a license and was told by Banking and Insurance that it was because his employer was not licensed to do business.
According to Ross's order, Thomas said that when she received calls asking whether St. Croix Insurance was licensed, she would refer to the order rather than say yes or no.
Court documents quote Thomas's testimony that "if you want to know if he is licensed, you need to read Judge Ross' order and I cannot tell you whether you should do business with St. Croix Insurance or not."
The actions of Thomas and the division spurred a strong response from Ross, who said they had disobeyed his order and thus were in contempt.
"The order unambiguously stated that [St. Croix Insurance] may continue to carry on all activities … authorized by law and specifically by the Insurance Statute to perform, pending the final determination of the appeal," Ross wrote.
The judge ordered that Banking and Insurance immediately issue the solicitor license to the St. Croix Insurance employee and that James and his staff refrain from giving "ambiguous and indirect responses to concerns from the public, insurance companies, agents" about the status of the insurance company. The order states that "people should be unequivocally informed and advised that [St. Croix Insurance] is lawfully and fully authorized to conduct all business activities permitted of licensed insurance agents … in the territory."
Ross's last order states that "disobedience of this immediate order shall require" James personally to compensate St. Croix Insurance financially "for the damages caused by the division's failure to comply with the court's orders in this matter."
Neither James nor Fitzsimmons could be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

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Nov. 15, 2001 -- Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II and the director of the Division of Banking and Insurance within his office have been found in contempt of court by Territorial Court Judge Edgar Ross for failing to comply with an earlier court ruling allowing an insurance company to conduct business.
If "disobedience" of the order continues, Ross said, he will make James personally compensate Thomas Fitzsimmons, owner of St. Croix Insurance, for damages.
In a Nov. 10 order, Ross castigated James and Maryleen Thomas, the Banking and Insurance director, for not issuing a solicitor license to an agent working for St. Croix Insurance and for giving ambiguous advice to the public about whether the company was licensed to do business in the territory. As lieutenant governor, James also serves as the commissioner of Banking and Insurance.
In June, after disagreements between Fitzsimmons and officials at Banking and Insurance prompted the insurance division to refuse to renew St. Croix Insurance's license, James issued an order that the company cease and desist from doing business.
Fitzsimmons appealed the order, which Ross stayed on July 13; this allowed the company to continue doing business pending the appeal.
Meantime, an employee of the insurance firm went to Banking and Insurance to obtain his solicitor's license. According to court documents, the employee was denied a license and was told by Banking and Insurance that it was because his employer was not licensed to do business.
According to Ross's order, Thomas said that when she received calls asking whether St. Croix Insurance was licensed, she would refer to the order rather than say yes or no.
Court documents quote Thomas's testimony that "if you want to know if he is licensed, you need to read Judge Ross' order and I cannot tell you whether you should do business with St. Croix Insurance or not."
The actions of Thomas and the division spurred a strong response from Ross, who said they had disobeyed his order and thus were in contempt.
"The order unambiguously stated that [St. Croix Insurance] may continue to carry on all activities ... authorized by law and specifically by the Insurance Statute to perform, pending the final determination of the appeal," Ross wrote.
The judge ordered that Banking and Insurance immediately issue the solicitor license to the St. Croix Insurance employee and that James and his staff refrain from giving "ambiguous and indirect responses to concerns from the public, insurance companies, agents" about the status of the insurance company. The order states that "people should be unequivocally informed and advised that [St. Croix Insurance] is lawfully and fully authorized to conduct all business activities permitted of licensed insurance agents ... in the territory."
Ross's last order states that "disobedience of this immediate order shall require" James personally to compensate St. Croix Insurance financially "for the damages caused by the division's failure to comply with the court's orders in this matter."
Neither James nor Fitzsimmons could be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.