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GEORGE HADE v. NATIONWIDE INSURANCE COMPANY (01/28/86)

filed: January 28, 1986.

GEORGE HADE
v.
NATIONWIDE INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT



APPEAL FROM THE ORDER ENTERED MARCH 29, 1985 IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY, CIVIL NO. 3328 SEPT. 1984.

COUNSEL

Joseph A. Whip, Norristown, for appellant.

Gustine Pelagatti, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Cirillo, Tamilia and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Cirillo

[ 349 Pa. Super. Page 542]

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County denying a petition to vacate or modify an arbitration panel's award. We affirm.

The appellant insurance company issued an automobile policy to appellee. By the terms of the contract, disputes over policy coverage arising between the parties can be submitted to arbitration. Concerning the situs of such arbitration, the policy states that "unless the insured and company agree otherwise, arbitration will take place in the

[ 349 Pa. Super. Page 543]

    county and state in which the insured lives." Appellee resides in Montgomery County.

Following a car accident in which he was injured, appellee sought uninsured motorist benefits under the policy. Counsel for appellee, his office being in Philadelphia, filed a "petition to compel arbitration and appoint a third arbitrator" in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. In order to comply with the terms of the policy, the Honorable Thomas A. White compelled arbitration in Montgomery County; further, since the parties could not agree upon a neutral arbitrator, the judge chose one from Montgomery County to complete the three man panel. The arbitration resulted in a $300,000.00 award in favor of appellee.

Appellant challenges the award on three separate grounds. First, it asserts that all of Judge White's actions are null and void because he had no jurisdiction over the matter. Second, appellant contends Judge White improperly retained venue in contravention of the policy; in other words, he should have transferred the matter to Montgomery County at the outset to let a Montgomery County judge compel arbitration and choose an arbitrator. Lastly, appellant argues the award was excessive because it included recompense for the misconduct of an agent of appellant, a matter beyond the scope of arbitrable issues.

The first argument is wholly without merit, since both subject matter and personal jurisdiction are easily found. The very fact that a court of common pleas is competent to handle this general class of cases, 42 P.C.S. § 931, allows a finding of subject matter jurisdiction regardless of whether the court can ultimately grant relief in the case. See Schifano v. Schifano, 324 Pa. Super. 281, 471 A.2d 839 (1984). As concerns personal jurisdiction, it is properly based upon appellant's carrying on of business within the Commonwealth, pursuant to 42 P.C.S. § 5301(a)(2)(iii). In appellant's view, Philadelphia cannot have jurisdiction ...


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