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Salib v. Alston

Decided: April 27, 1994.

DANNA M. SALIB AND FAWZIY E. SALIB, HER HUSBAND, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DARLENE ALSTON, MICHAEL LYONS, NEW JERSEY AUTOMOBILE FULL INSURANCE UNDERWRITING ASSOCIATION AND CSC INSURANCE SERVICES, DEFENDANTS; KEVIN BASKERVILLE, PLAINTIFF, V. DARLENE ALSTON, MICHAEL LYONS, FAWZIY E. SALIB, DANNA M. SALIB, DEFENDANTS.



Lerner

Lerner

LERNER, J.S.C.

This case arises from a demand by the plaintiff Danna M. Salib ("Mrs. Salib") seeking a trial de novo on issues of damages and liability after rejecting an arbitration award of damages for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. For the reasons which follow, the court concludes that the parties are entitled to a new

trial only on the issue of damages after the rejection of an arbitration award.

Mrs. Salib was injured in an automobile accident involving the vehicle she was driving and the vehicle driven by defendant Michael Lyons ("Lyons"). The Lyons vehicle was owned by defendant Darlene Alston ("Alston"). Kevin Baskerville ("Baskerville") was a passenger in the Lyons vehicle. Baskerville was also injured in the accident and filed an action seeking damages. Neither Alston, Lyons, or Baskerville were insured. The Salib vehicle was owned by defendant Fawziy E. Salib ("Mr. Salib") and had uninsured motorists coverage of $100,000 on a policy issued by CSC Insurance Services as servicing carrier for the New Jersey Automobile Full Insurance Underwriting Association. The Salibs' action was consolidated with the Baskerville action.

The Salibs' insurance policy mandated arbitration for claims involving uninsured motorists, and pursuant to that policy, Mrs. Salib's claim was submitted to a three-member arbitration panel. The arbitrators fixed Mrs. Salib's damages at $40,000, apportioned liability as 80:20 between her and Lyons, wherein she would have received $32,000.

Mrs. Salib rejected the arbitrator's award, and moved for a trial de novo on the issues of both liability and damages, pursuant to Clause 2 of the arbitration provision in the her insurance policy. The relevant provisions of that arbitration clause are:

A decision agreed to by . . . the arbitrators will be binding as to:

1. Whether the "insured" is legally entitled to recover damages; and

2. The amount of damages. This applies only if the amount does not exceed the minimum limit for liability specified by the financial responsibility law of New Jersey. If the amount exceeds that limit, either party may demand the right to a trial. This demand must be made within 60 days of the arbitrators' decision. If this demand is not made, the amount of damages agreed to by the arbitrators will be binding.

The arbitration provision of an automobile insurance policy permitting either the insured or the insurer to demand a trial if the arbitration award exceeded the minimum limit of liability specified by the ...


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