Appeal from the Order Entered May 5, 1988, in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, at No. GD 88-04951
Louis C. Long, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
John P. Lydon, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Rowley, Del Sole and Montgomery, JJ. Del Sole, J., files a dissenting opinion.
[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 93]
The Plaintiff-Appellee, Arzenia Delarosa Johnson, was allegedly injured when the taxicab in which she was a passenger was struck by a hit and run driver. She instituted this action to obtain damages through the taxicab owner's uninsured motorist insurance policy. The Defendant-Appellant,
[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 94]
Pennsylvania National Insurance Companies, filed preliminary objections, asserting that the insurance policy required that the Plaintiff's claim be submitted to arbitration. The judge who considered this matter denied the preliminary objections, based upon an earlier decision in a similar factual setting by another judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.*fn1 However, the trial court certified this matter as appropriate for immediate appellate review, and our Court has granted the Appellant's request that we consider its interlocutory appeal.
The issue presented is whether the Plaintiff, who was not a party to the insurance contract, is bound by the provisions of that agreement which require the arbitration of a claim for uninsured motorist benefits.*fn2 The arbitration provisions of the policy state:
a. If we and an "insured" disagree whether the "insured" is legally entitled to recover damages from the owner or driver of an "uninsured motor vehicle" or an "underinsured motor vehicle" or do not agree as to the amount of damages, either party may make a written demand for arbitration. Each party will select an arbitrator. The two arbitrators will select a third. If they cannot agree within 30 days, either may request that selection be made by a judge of a court having jurisdiction. Each party will pay the expenses it incurs and bear the expenses of the third arbitrator equally.
b. Arbitration shall be conducted in accordance with the Pennsylvania Uniform Arbitration Act. Unless both parties agree otherwise, arbitration will take place in the county in which the "insured" lives. Local rules of
[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 95]
law as to arbitration procedure and evidence will apply. A decision agreed to by two of ...