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COA: Parties must arbitrate dispute over insurance coverage

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The Indiana Court of Appeals found a trial court erred when it failed to enforce an arbitration provision of an insurance policy issued by Pekin Insurance Co. and ordered a couple’s lawsuit against their insurer stayed until arbitration is complete.

Carol and Jose Hanquiers sued Joseph Hall and Pekin Insurance Co. seeking damages from Hall stemming from an auto collision that injured Carol Hanquiers severely. The Hanquiers also sought underinsured motorist benefits from Pekin.

Pekin sought to arbitrate the dispute for underinsured motorist benefits based on a provision of the policy that says, “either party may make a written demand for arbitration” if the insurer and the insured don’t agree whether the insured can recover those damages. Pekin requested a stay pending arbitration.

The trial court denied Pekin’s requests, leading to this appeal.

In Pekin Insurance Company v. Jose and Carol Hanquier and Joseph Hall, 55A04-1208-CT-401, Pekin argued that the policy provides arbitration is mandatory when requested by either party; the Hanquiers took the position that the word “may” makes arbitration permissive and not mandatory.

“Under the policy, either Pekin or the insured ‘may’ make a demand for arbitration, but neither is required to make such a written demand. However, once either party makes a written demand for arbitration, arbitration becomes mandatory,” Judge James Kirsch wrote. He pointed to the use of “will” later in the section regarding arbitrator selection and coverage of costs.

The trial court should have enforced the arbitration provision as required by Indiana Code 34-57-2-3(a), the judges held, as well as granted the stay pending arbitration. The case is remanded for further proceedings.

 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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