Sunday, January 19, 2014

Collateral Estoppel Applied Against UIM Claim After Third Party Binding High/Low Arbitration Concluded

In his recent January 15, 2014 Opinion in the case of Borrelli v. AIU North Americam, Inc., No. 0430, Control No. 13110820 (C.P. Phila. Jan. 15, 2014 Bernstein, J.),  Judge Mark I. Bernstein of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas granted a UIM carrier's motion for summary judgment based on collateral estoppel in a case where the Plaintiff proceeded through an agreed upon high/low arbitration with the tortfeasor defendant first.

More specifically, the injured party plaintiff insured, with consent of the carrier, settled the third party claim by way of a binding arbitration, in which the arbitrator entered an award of less than policy limits.

The injured party plaintiff insured then filed a UIM case in Philadelphia County against the UIM carrier.  The UIM carrier filed a Motion for Summary Judgment based upon the application of the collateral estoppel doctrine. 

After finding that all of the elements of the collateral estoppel doctrine were met under the circumstances presented, the court granted the UIM carrier's Motion for Summary Judgment.  The court ruled that the issue of the full amount of damages to which the plaintiff was entitled had been previously litigated and determined to be less than the tortfeasor's liability limits, thereby precluding any UIM recovery.

It remains to be seen if this decision will be appealed.

Anyone wishing to review Judge Bernstein's Opinion in Borrelli may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Susan Weiner of the Philadelphia Legal - Law Offices of James L. Barlow for bringing this case to my attention.

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