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HARLEYSVILLE MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY v. MEDYCKI (08/06/68)

decided: August 6, 1968.

HARLEYSVILLE MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT,
v.
MEDYCKI



Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Feb. T., 1968, No. 705, in case of Harleysville Mutual Insurance Company v. Walter E. Medycki and American Arbitration Association.

COUNSEL

Joel Paul Fishbein, with him Paul A. Lockrey, for appellant.

Frank Weitzman, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice O'Brien. Mr. Justice Cohen concurs in the result. Mr. Justice Jones dissents.

Author: O'brien

[ 431 Pa. Page 68]

Walter R. Medycki was insured by an automobile liability insurance policy issued by appellant, Harleysville Mutual Insurance Company. Among the coverages afforded by the policy was protection against uninsured motorists.

[ 431 Pa. Page 69]

On October 11, 1967, Medycki put appellant on notice of an accident in which he had been involved on March 18, 1966, some seventeen months earlier, and advised that he was making a claim under the uninsured motorists coverage. Appellant sent Medycki a Reservation of Rights Agreement and a Loss Report for his completion and signature. Medycki refused to execute these papers, and he further refused to furnish appellant with copies of legal papers filed by him against the alleged uninsured motorist.

The policy provides that the insured must give notice of an accident or loss to the carrier as soon as practicable. This condition applies to claims under all of the coverages of the policy, not only to uninsured motorists claims. The policy further requires claimants under the uninsured motorists coverage to give the carrier written proof of claim as soon as practicable and to provide the carrier with copies of all pleadings filed against the uninsured motorist. In addition, the policy requires that all its provisions must be met before any action can lie against the company.

On November 10, 1967 Medycki, without complying with the conditions set out above, filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association, in accordance with the arbitration provision of the uninsured motorists coverage of his policy. On the same day, appellant advised Medycki that it would not provide uninsured motorists coverage to him because of his violation of the policy. Consequently, appellant informed the American Arbitration Association that no uninsured motorists coverage was owed to Medycki and that the Association had no jurisdiction to hear the claim. The Association advised appellant that the issue of disclaimer of coverage was to be decided by its arbitrator. Appellant then filed a complaint in equity, seeking to enjoin the arbitration pending a judicial determination of the validity of the disclaimer of

[ 431 Pa. Page 70]

    coverage, or in the alternative, enjoining the arbitration until such time as Medycki supplied appellant with full information on the details of the accident in question, the witnesses, and the nature of his injuries and treatment.

Medycki filed preliminary objections on the grounds that appellant had a full, complete, non-statutory remedy at law and that the court lacked jurisdiction of the subject matter. The court below, on the authority of Nat. Grange M. Ins. Co. v. Kuhn, 428 Pa. 179, 236 A.2d 758 (1968), sustained ...


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