Posted on Aug 17, 2012
The Middle District of Pennsylvania federal court in Sabella v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., No. 1:12-CV-00582 (Rambo J., M.D. Pa. Aug. 14, 2012) this week decided whether an insured is entitled to collect monies from an arbitration valuation of $100,000. In this case, the insured litigated an underinsured motorist (UIM) arbitration and the arbitrators stated that "the arbitrators unanimously agreed upon a valuation of the damages of $100,000 for all damages." The policy limits of the third party tortfeasor was $300,000. After the award, the insurance company did not mold the verdict so the insured took the position that he was entitled to the UIM award and filed a motion to confirm the award. The insurance company argued that the arbitration decision was not an "award" but a "valuation of Plaintiff's damages" and there was no requirement for it to mold the award.
The District Court finds that "a party's failure to mold under these circumstances does not render the arbitrators' award final and Nationwide is entitled to a credit of $300,000. Accordingly, the amount of UIM coverage owed by Nationwide is $0.00". The Court relies upon Bremer v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16960 (M.D. Pa. 2004) to follow a policy of enforcing exhaustion clauses and the lack of any case, specific rule or statute which requires the Defendant to file a motion to mold under these facts. Therefore, the court holds that Nationwide was not required to file a motion to mold and is not responsible for any UIM payment under these facts where there was a "valuation" as opposed to an "award".
If you would like a copy of the opinion it can be obtained by directly contacting Scott Cooper or feel free to contact the Harrisburg personal injury attorneys at Schmidt Kramer who specialize in Pennsylvania car accidents and crashes and can answer your questions.
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