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Hartman v. Allstate Insurance Co.

November 09, 2001

JOHN HARTMAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, 3316-99.

Before Judges Havey, Coburn*fn1 and Weissbard.

 The opinion of the court was delivered by: Weissbard, J.A.D.

As amended November 27, 2001, and December 11, 2001.

JOHN HARTMAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, 3316-99.

Alexander W. Ross, Jr., argued the cause for appellant (Rakoski & Ross, attorneys; Mr. Ross, on the brief). Peter J. Van Dyke, argued the cause for respondent (Kelaher, Garvey, Ballou and Van Dyke, attorneys; Mr. Van Dyke, on the brief).

Before Judges Havey, Coburn*fn1 and Weissbard.

 The opinion of the court was delivered by: Weissbard, J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued October 9, 2001

On June 26, 1993, plaintiff, John Hartman, sustained injuries during the course of his employment with South Jersey East Coast Paving. As a result, Hartman received workers' compensation benefits from Travelers Property and Casualty Insurance Company (Travelers), or its predecessor in interest, Aetna Casualty and Surety, in the total amount of $133,718.73.*fn2 Hartman's injuries resulted from an automobile accident caused by an uninsured third-party. Hartman thereafter obtained a default judgment against the uninsured motorist for $140,000, while his wife was awarded $10,000 on her per quod claim.

Hartman was insured with defendant, Allstate Insurance Company, under a policy with uninsured motorist (UM) limits of $100,000. Hartman filed a UM claim with Allstate and on March 1, 1999, James Pepe, an Allstate representative, notified Hartman's attorney that Allstate had agreed to pay the full policy limits in settlement of the claim. Allstate acknowledged receipt of the compensation lien. However, the matter quickly reached an impasse.

Hartman's counsel sought to have Travelers agree to a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 split of the UM proceeds among Travelers, Hartman, and Hartman's attorney. When Travelers insisted upon receiving its full net lien of $88,279.15, Hartman decided to abandon his UM claim.*fn3

After Allstate refused Travelers' demand for payment of the compensation lien, Travelers instituted this action, in the name of Hartman, directly against Allstate. See N.J.S.A. 34:15-40(f). The trial court, on Allstate's motion for summary judgment, dismissed the suit on the basis that the applicable statutory provision, N.J.S.A. 34:15-40(f), did not provide the compensation carrier with the right to institute such an action on its own behalf. We construe the statute differently and ...


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