Thursday, September 16, 2010

Appropriate Appeal Period for Motion to Vacate and/or Modify in a UM/UIM Case

In the case of Bentivegna v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, No. 2009-CIVIL-4423 (Cambria Co. Sept. 7, 2010, Fleming, J.), the trial court addressed the applicable time period for seeking judicial review on a Motion to Vacate and/or Modify an uninsured motorist (UM) award.

Interestingly, in this decision, the trial court found that the 30-day period for seeking judicial review found in the Uniform Arbitration Act of 1980 supersedes the Arbitration Act of 1927’s 90-day period, even where the policy called for arbitration pursuant to the Act of 1927. In so ruling, the trial court noted that the Act of 1927 was repealed by the Uniform Arbitration Act of 1980.

That repeal reduced the limitations period from 90 days to 30 days. 42 Pa. C.S.A. §7315. Judge Fleming noted that, despite an agreement in the policy to arbitrate a dispute under the Act of 1927, the limitations period for arbitration appeals is 30 days under the law because parties cannot contractually extend a statutory limitations period. [numerous citations omitted.]

I thank the prevailing defense attorney, Thomas MacDonald of the Pittsburgh law firm of Summers, MacDonald, Hudock, Guthrie & Skeel for bringing this case to my attention.

Anyone desiring a copy of this opinion may contact me at

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