No Magic Words Needed to Reject Arbitrator Award And Ask for Trial

March 18, 2013 – In The News
New Jersey Law Journal

The ruling in the recent case, Vega v. 21st Century Ins. Co., A-2904-11, cited that no specific phrasing is required for a litigant to reject an arbitration award and demand a trial in an uninsured-motorist case.

The judge in the case referenced LoBianco v. Harleysville Ins. Co., 368 N.J. Super. 515 (Law Div. 2003), a published trial court decision that they said exulted form over substance by requiring a party to “demand a trail” in those very word.

The judged cited LoBianco, a nearly identical case in which the insured moved to confirm an arbitration award for $29,500 in UM benefits, contending that the carrier, Harleysville Ins. Co., did not strictly comply with the policy’s notice requirements.

Dennis Brotman, the lawyer for Philip LoBianco, says “the language of insurance contracts used to be strictly construed against insurance companies” and he calls the judges decision part of a pattern of appellate rulings that “makes the playing field for injured people and consumers more difficult in auto insurance cases.”