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Court Stays Ruling Requiring 20th Century Insurance Rebates


20th Century Industries on Thursday won a stay of a California Supreme Court ruling that ordered the Woodland Hills-based insurer to pay policyholders $120 million in premium rebates and interest under Proposition 103.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs granted the delay to allow 20th Century to file an expected appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Janavs' stay expires Dec. 28, 20th Century's deadline for filing the appeal. If the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, the delay could last much longer.

A lawyer for state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi attacked Janavs' action as illegal.

"We don't think she has the authority to stay a Supreme Court order," said attorney Michael J. Strumwasser, who represents Garamendi on Proposition 103 matters.

Garamendi has not decided how to respond, Strumwasser said, but one option is petitioning the state Supreme Court to quash the stay.

Proposition 103 author Harvey Rosenfield accused Janavs of "thumbing her nose at the public" and said she should be barred from cases involving the 1988 insurance rate-cutting initiative.

The California Supreme Court, in its Aug. 18 decision, unanimously reversed a ruling by Janavs and rejected 20th Century's challenge to Garamendi's Proposition 103 regulations.

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