No. 02117 PHL 83, Appeal from the Order entered July 7, 1983 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil Division, at No. 3566 May Term, 1983.
Michael Luber, Philadelphia, for appellant.
David H. McCartney, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Rowley, McEwen and Hoffman, JJ.
This is an appeal from the July 7, 1983 order denying appellant's petition to set aside, vacate or modify an arbitration award and confirming the arbitration award.*fn1
The legal issue in this case is whether a Pennsylvania resident injured in a motor vehicle accident in Pennsylvania as a result of negligence of another Pennsylvania resident who has no liability insurance can stack the uninsured motorist benefits of an insurance policy which insures the vehicle in which the injured party is an occupant where that insurance policy is issued on vehicles
owned by an individual who is at all times a resident of New Jersey.
(Majority Opinion of Arbitration Panel at 4). It is undisputed that Pennsylvania law would allow such stacking whereas New Jersey law would enforce a policy provision precluding stacking. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm.
The facts may be briefly summarized: On June 9, 1981, appellant, John Caputo, Jr., while operating a vehicle in which his wife was a passenger, became involved in a motor vehicle accident in Chester County, Pennsylvania, with an uninsured vehicle owned and operated by a negligent Pennsylvania resident. Appellant and his wife are also Pennsylvania residents. Appellant was injured and his wife killed. Appellant's vehicle was owned by appellant's father, a New Jersey resident, and insured by appellee Allstate Insurance Company under a policy issued to appellant's father in New Jersey. This policy also covered three other motor vehicles owned by appellant's father. Appellant had sole use of the vehicle in question, which had been given to him by his father, although legal title or ownership was never transferred to him. On April 18, 1983, an arbitration panel, in a 2-1 decision, entered an award in appellant's favor in the amount of $15,000 in uninsured motorist benefits. The dissenting arbitrator would have given appellant $60,000, based on stacking the uninsured motorist coverages on the four vehicles owned by appellant's father and insured by appellee. On May 18, appellant filed a petition to set aside, vacate or modify the arbitration award. On July 7, the lower court denied the petition and confirmed the arbitration award, thereby prompting this appeal.
We must initially determine whether the common law arbitration award entered below is reviewable.
Arbitration is "designed to provide an expeditious and inexpensive method of resolving disputes with the further winning attribute of helping to ease congested court calendars . . . ." Allstate Insurance Co. v. Fioravanti, 451 Pa. 108, 116, 299 A.2d 585, 589 (1973). ...