November 23, 2011
ALLSTATE NEW JERSEY INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
LORRAINE BROCKMAN, ADVANCED CENTER FOR SPINE CARE A/S/O LORRAINE BROCKMAN, MARKET STREET SURGICAL CENTER A/S/O LORRAINE BROCKMAN, INTERVENTIONAL PAIN A/S/O LORRAINE BROCKMAN, POMPTON ANESTHESIA A/S/O LORRAINE BROCKMAN, AND MEDICAL IMAGING CENTER OF NEW JERSEY A/S/O LORRAINE BROCKMAN, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Docket No. L-11081-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued: November 10, 2011 -
Before Judges Cuff and Waugh.
Plaintiff Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company (Allstate) appeals from an order confirming an arbitration award. We affirm.
Defendant Lorraine Brockman filed a claim for personal injury protection (PIP) benefits for medical treatment received in an April 16, 2005 automobile accident. At the time, Brockman was a passenger in a car owned and operated by a third-party insured by Allstate. At the time, Brockman also owned an unregistered and uninsured 1992 Ford Escort. Brockman assigned her rights to receipt of PIP benefits under the driver's policy to defendants Advanced Center for Spine Care, Market Street Surgical Center, Interventional Pain, Pompton Anesthesia, and Medical Imaging Center of New Jersey (defendant medical providers). They, in turn, sought direct payment for the medical services rendered by them to Brockman. Allstate denied payment pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:6A-7b(1) and defendant medical providers filed an arbitration demand.
On May 22, 1010, a dispute resolution professional awarded $53,534.38 to defendant medical providers. Allstate appealed and the matter was submitted to a panel of three arbitrators. On September 22, 2010, the award was upheld with one arbitrator dissenting. Allstate filed a verified complaint and Order to Show Cause in the Superior Court to vacate the award. It contended that the arbitrators erroneously applied the law.
In an oral opinion, Judge Toskos noted the presumptive validity of an arbitration award and the limited grounds that permit vacation of an arbitration award. After reviewing the facts of this case and the law governing the denial of PIP benefits to a person who owns an uninsured automobile, the judge found there was a sufficient factual basis for the arbitration panel to find that Brockman did not intend to operate the motor vehicle.
Having reviewed the record in its entirety, we affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Toskos in his February 2, 2011 oral opinion. Finding no error in the application of the law to the facts of record, there is no basis to disturb the arbitration award. N.J.S.A. 2A:23A-18b.
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