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02/23/87 Dorothy Henley, v. Economy Fire & Casualty

February 23, 1987

DOROTHY HENLEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

ECONOMY FIRE & CASUALTY COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIRST DIVISION

505 N.E.2d 1091, 153 Ill. App. 3d 66, 106 Ill. Dec. 300 1987.IL.213

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. James C. Murray, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

Justice Campbell delivered the opinion of the court. Quinlan, P.J., and O'Connor, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE CAMPBELL

Defendant, Economy Fire & Casualty Company (Economy), appeals from a summary judgment which vacated and set aside the second amended arbitration award decided in favor of Economy and ordered the parties to rearbitrate the uninsured-motorist claim filed by plaintiff, Dorothy Henley. On appeal, Economy contends that the trial court erred in vacating the award because the Uniform Arbitration Act (the Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 10, par. 101 et seq.) provides no statutory grounds for its determination. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The underlying uninsured-motorist claim arose from an automobile collision involving motor vehicles driven by plaintiff and Vernell Baldwin, an uninsured motorist. At the time of the accident, plaintiff was insured by Economy under a policy which provided indemnification up to $10,000 for injuries caused by uninsured motorists. The policy also contained an arbitration clause which stated that any disputed insured-motorist claims would be submitted to a panel of three arbitrators. As a result of the dispute involved in plaintiff's claim, the matter was submitted to arbitration. Plaintiff appointed Francis Baumgart as her arbitrator. Economy appointed Ronald Broida, and Baumgart and Broida selected Michael Berman as the neutral arbitrator.

At the arbitration hearing on May 1, 1981, Raymond Armand, a co-worker of plaintiff's, testified that approximately 3:30 p.m. on June 1, 1979, he was waiting in his car, directly behind plaintiff's car, at the traffic signal at the intersection of Leavitt and Division. Plaintiff's car was the first car at the light. When the light turned green, Armand saw plaintiff proceed southbound into the middle of the intersection, where her car was struck by Baldwin's car, which was heading eastbound. Armand stated that Baldwin had been speeding. He had seen plaintiff attempt to swerve to avoid the collision, but the effort was too late. Armand also had heard Baldwin apologizing to plaintiff after the collision.

Plaintiff testified to essentially the same facts as did Armand, adding that before she had proceeded into the intersection, she had looked to both sides, but had not seen Baldwin's automobile until it was too late to do anything but attempt to swerve out of the way. A Chicago police officer also testified on plaintiff's behalf as to the damage to the automobiles.

Following the testimony of plaintiff's witnesses, Arbitrator Berman inquired if plaintiff intended to call any other occurrence witnesses. Plaintiff responded that she would be calling only medical witnesses unless defendant called an occurrence witness, in which case, she might call a rebuttal witness. Arbitrator Berman then inquired if there were any motions to be made regarding liability. In response, the following colloquy ensued:

"ECONOMY: Well, perfunctorily, I'll make a motion on directed verdict, because the testimony of the Plaintiff herself is she failed to see the other car before the accident, the other vehicle before the accident.

BERMAN: Is that the basis for your motion?

ECONOMY: Yes.

BERMAN: Counsel, any ...


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