Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Northamption County, April T., 1967, No. 2, in case of Allstate Insurance Company v. Robert W. W. Taylor.
Dennis J. Monaghan, for appellant.
Robertson B. Taylor, with him Robert H. Holland, and Kolb, Holland, Antonelli & Heffner, for appellee.
Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice O'Brien. Mr. Justice Eagen concurs in the result. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Justice Jones and Mr. Justice Pomeroy join in this opinion.
Appellant, Robert W. W. Taylor, suffered personal injuries in a motor vehicle accident which occurred on March 11, 1966. The other party involved in the accident was one Joseph Kovacs, who, it subsequently developed, was an uninsured motorist. Appellant was therefore unable to satisfy his alleged damages by an action of trespass. At the time of the accident, appellee, Allstate Insurance Company, was the insurer on a policy of automobile liability insurance purchased by Walter W. Taylor, appellant's father. Walter W. Taylor resided in Torrance, California. Appellant, at the time of the accident was a student at Lehigh University in Northampton County, the County in which the accident occurred. In cluded among the coverages of the senior Taylor's insurance policy was protection against uninsured motorists. The policy provides coverage to the "named insured" and "any person designated as named insured in the schedule and, while a resident of the same household, the spouse of any such named insured and relatives of either." Appellant made application to appellee under the uninsured motorist provision of his father's insurance policy and coverage was denied on the ground that appellant was not a resident of the same household as the named insured, his father. Appellant then, in accordance with the provisions of the policy, made a demand for arbitration. Appellee filed a petition for declaratory judgment, seeking a determination of appellant's status as a member or nonmember of his father's household, and further seeking to restrain appellant from proceeding with arbitration. By subsequent stipulation of the parties, the arbitration was stayed pending an adjudication in
the declaratory judgment action, jurisdiction of which was entertained by the court below.
Appellant, who was born in April of 1940, had reached the age of nearly 26 years by the time the accident occurred. He had attended the University of Southern California and subsequent to his graduation from that institution obtained a Fellowship for graduate work at Yale University. He studied at Yale from 1961 until he earned his Masters Degree from that institution in 1964. He then came to Lehigh University to commence work on his Doctorate. While at Lehigh he taught part-time and received a stipend for his support. All of these facts were contained in the petition for declaratory judgment and developed by the testimony. Appellant contended throughout that his student status and partial support by his parents made him a continuing resident in the household of his father. The court below concluded that appellant was not a resident of the same household as his father and entered a decree so holding from which this appeal is taken.
We need not and will not reach the merits of the dispute between the parties relative to the status of appellant under his father's uninsured motorist coverage. Despite the stipulation of the parties, the court below should not have entertained a declaratory judgment action. The dispute between the parties having arisen under the uninsured motorist provision of the policy should have been settled by arbitration. The policy in question is no different from others which we have previously interpreted. Its terms provide, with respect to the uninsured motorist provision's arbitration clause: "If any person making claim hereunder and the company do not agree that such person is legally entitled to recover damages from the owner or operator of an uninsured automobile because of bodily
injury to the insured, or do not agree as to the amount of payment which may be owing under this endorsement, then, upon written demand of either, the matter or matters upon which such person and the company do not agree shall be settled by arbitration in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association. . . ." (Emphasis added). From this language, appellee concludes, and so states in its petition for declaratory judgment, "that the issues [sic] of coverage under the existing policy of insurance issued to Walter W. Taylor is not a proper issue for arbitration under the insuring agreement. [Appellee] further avers that the insuring agreement ...