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GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES INSURANCE COMPANY v. LEONARD LANE AND SYDRIA LANE (04/06/79)

decided: April 6, 1979.

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT,
v.
LEONARD LANE AND SYDRIA LANE



No. 2080 October Term, 1977, Appeal from the Order entered June 8, 1976, of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, at No. 1041 November Term, 1975, Trial Div., Law.

COUNSEL

William L. Kovacs, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Jerome H. Ellis, Philadelphia, for appellees.

Jacobs, President Judge, and Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, Spaeth and Hester, JJ. Price, J., files a dissenting opinion. Van der Voort, J., files a dissenting statement. Jacobs, former President Judge, and Hoffman, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Hester

[ 264 Pa. Super. Page 617]

This is an appeal from the lower court's June 8, 1976 Order*fn1 denying Appellant's Petition to Confirm an Arbitrators' Award dated October 23, 1975 and remanding the award to the Arbitrators for correction so as to actually reflect their findings and decision of October 23, 1975.

The facts are as follows: Appellees (Lanes) filed an uninsured motorists claim in accordance with the provisions of the "Protection Against Uninsured Motorist" section of their automobile liability policy which had been issued by Appellant (GEICO). On August 20, 1975 and, in compliance with the appropriate policy provisions, a hearing was convened before an American Arbitration Association panel of three, all of whom were attorneys.

[ 264 Pa. Super. Page 618]

On October 23, 1975, the Arbitrators entered an award in favor of the Lanes which provided in relevant part:

Government Employees Insurance Company shall pay to Leonard Lane and Sydria Lane, the sum of Twenty Thousand ($20,000.00) Dollars.

Several days following the issuance of the Award, Arbitrator Simone received a telephone call from Appellees' counsel who inquired as to the intentions of the Arbitration Board in the issuance of said Award (R. 71a-72a, 77a-78a).

As a result of his conversation with Appellees' counsel, Arbitrator Simone, on October 28, 1975, wrote a letter to the American Arbitration Association advising them that "there is an error in the 'Award of Arbitrators' . . . and the 'Award' should be amended" to Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000.00) for each of the Appellees, for a total Award of Forty Thousand Dollars ($40,000.00). (Exhibit R-8, R. 148a).

Thereafter, on November 21, 1975, Appellant (GEICO) filed a Petition to Confirm the Award (The $20,000 Award) and have same reduced to judgment; which Petition to Confirm was opposed by Appellees contending that the intended award was $20,000 for Leonard Lane and $20,000 for Sydria Lane, or a total of Forty Thousand ($40,000) Dollars.

On February 11, 1976, GEICO'S Petition to Confirm was argued and on March 2, 1976, the lower court directed that the Arbitrators' Depositions be taken to determine whether there was error or ambiguity in the Arbitrators' Award.

Subsequently, on March 16, 1976, all three Arbitrators (and one of the Arbitrator's associates) were deposed and additional exhibits submitted. Also deposed was an employee of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and the Regional Director of the Philadelphia office of the AAA.

After a review of the record, the lower court entered its June 8, 1976 Order wherein the court found that "there was, indeed, an error or ambiguity in the preparation, issuance, execution and transmittal of the Arbitrators' ...


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