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LIBERTY MUT. INS. CO. v. VENTIMIGLIA

March 23, 2000

LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF,
V.
WESLEY VENTIMIGLIA, ROSE VENTIMIGLIA, AND JASMINE MARIN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Munley, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM

Before the court for disposition is the defendants' motion for stay of action pending arbitration. The plaintiff is Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, and the defendants are Wesley Ventimiglia, Rose Ventimiglia, and Jasmine Marin. The parties have briefed their respective positions, and the matter is thus ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, we shall dismiss this case.

Background

Prior to December 3, 1998, plaintiff issued an automobile insurance policy to Defendants Wesley and Rose Ventimiglia. The policy included uninsured motorist liability amounts of $50,000.00 each person and $100,000.00 each accident. The policy covered Defendant Jasmine Marin as she was a resident relative (daughter) of Defendant Rose Ventimiglia.

On December 3, 1998, Jasmine Marin was allegedly abducted at gun point after exiting the school bus and forced into the abductor's automobile. She finally escaped by jumping out of the vehicle after being driven around for a while. During the escape, she suffered injuries. Defendant Marin filed an uninsured motorist claim under the Ventimiglia's automobile insurance policy with the plaintiff, to recover for her injuries. Plaintiff refused to provide benefits for the injuries.

Defendants sought arbitration of the matter, and filed a petition for appointment of an arbitrator in the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County on January 3, 2000. The Monroe County Court ordered Liberty Mutual to respond to the petition within twenty days.

On January 6, 2000, Liberty Mutual filed the instant declaratory judgment complaint by which it seeks to have this court find that it is not obligated to pay uninsured motorists benefits to Defendant Marin. The defendants then filed the instant motion to stay action pending arbitration. While the defendants have not filed a motion to dismiss, we will treat their motion as such because declaratory judgment actions may be dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.Pro. 12(b)(6) where the dispute is covered by an arbitration agreement. Nationwide Ins. Co. of Columbus, Ohio v. Patterson, 953 F.2d 44, 45, n. 1 (3d Cir. 1991).

The defendants contend that pursuant to the arbitration clause of the insurance policy at issue, the matter should be decided through the arbitration process. The plaintiff disagrees and contends that the matter should be decided before the United States District Court. After a careful review, we are in agreement with the defendants.

The insurance policy at issue provides as follows:

ARBITRATION

A. If we [plaintiff] and an "insured" do not agree:

1. Whether that "insured" is legally entitled to recover damages; or
2. As to the amount of damages which are recoverable by that "insured;" From the owner or operator of a "uninsured motor vehicle" then the matter may be arbitrated.
Either party may make a written demand for arbitration. Arbitration shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Pennsylvania Uniform Arbitration Act. Each party will select an arbitrator. The two arbitrators will select a third. If they cannot agree within 30 days, either may ...

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