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STEVEN LANCI v. METROPOLITAN INSURANCE CO. (09/28/89)

filed: September 28, 1989.

STEVEN LANCI
v.
METROPOLITAN INSURANCE CO., APPELLANT



Appeal from the order entered November 23, 1989, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil, No. 145 April 1985.

COUNSEL

Charles A. Harad, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Steven C. Forman, Philadelphia, for appellee.

McEwen, Popovich and Melinson, JJ.

Author: Melinson

[ 388 Pa. Super. Page 2]

This is an appeal from an order denying Metropolitan Insurance Co.'s ["Metropolitan"] motion to compel enforcement of a settlement agreement. Metropolitan contends that the trial court erred in voiding a release provision in the agreement after finding that it was based on a mutual mistake.

Before addressing the merits of Metropolitan's claim, we must first determine whether this appeal is properly before the court. Upon initial review of this appeal, the court issued a rule to show cause why this appeal should not be quashed pursuant to National Recovery Systems v. Perlman, 367 Pa. Super. 546, 533 A.2d 152 (1987). In Perlman, a panel of this court, with Judge Olszewski dissenting, held that an order denying a motion to enforce an alleged settlement agreement was not appealable under the collateral

[ 388 Pa. Super. Page 3]

    order doctrine enunciated by the United States Supreme Court in Cohen v. Beneficial Industrial Loan Corp., 337 U.S. 541, 69 S.Ct. 1221, 93 L.Ed. 1528 (1949). Under Cohen, an order is considered final and appealable if (1) it is separable from and collateral to the main cause of action; (2) the right involved is too important to be denied review; and (3) the question presented is such that if review is postponed until final judgment in the case, it will be irreparably lost. In Perlman, the court found that the order satisfied the first two elements of Cohen, but not the third because the appellant would be free to raise the issue of the validity of the settlement agreement on appeal from the judgment following trial.

In response to the rule to show cause, Metropolitan argues that this appeal is distinguishable from the appeal in Perlman. Metropolitan asserts, and we agree, that the third element of Cohen is met in the instant case. If this appeal were to be quashed, the case will proceed to an uninsured motorist arbitration hearing, rather than to trial as in Perlman. The Uniform Arbitration Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. ยง 7302(d)(2), sets forth the standard of review for arbitration awards, providing in pertinent part:

This standard limits appellate review to corrections of arbitration awards where it is determined that the award is the result of a mistake of law. Derry Township Municipal Authority v. Solomon and Davis, Inc., 372 Pa. Super. 213, 539 A.2d 405 (1988). A mistake of law is a mistake as to the legal consequences of an assumed state of facts. Acme Markets, Inc. v. Valley View Shopping Center, 342 Pa. Super. 567, 493 A.2d 736 (1985).

[ 388 Pa. Super. Page 4]

Here, Metropolitan appeals from the trial court's factual determination that the settlement agreement was based upon a mutual mistake, and therefore, was not binding. Metropolitan does not contest the "legal consequences of an assumed state of facts," but rather, the facts as stated. Thus, Metropolitan is correct in its assertion that such an issue would not be subject to appellate review following an arbitration award. As a result, we find that the facts of this case are distinguishable from those in Perlman, and that the requirements of the collateral order ...


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