Saturday, May 31, 2008

UM Arbitration Stayed Due to No Physical Contact with Hit-and-Run Vehicle

Matter of Government Employees Ins. Co. v. Steinmetz
(2nd Dept., decided 5/27/2008)

GEICO commenced this special proceeding for a permanent stay of arbitration of defendant's uninsured motorists (UM) coverage claim, contending that there had been no physical contact between the defendant's vehicle and the alleged hit-and-run vehicle, as required for UM coverage. After a hearing, the lower court agreed and granted GEICO's petition.

In AFFIRMING the lower court's ruling, the Second Department held:
"Where, as here, a case is tried without a jury, this Court's power to review the evidence is as broad as that of the trial court, taking into account in a close case the fact that the trial judge had the advantage of seeing the witnesses'" (Terry v State of New York, 39 AD3d 846, 846, quoting Northern Westchester Professional Park Assoc. v Town of Bedford, 60 NY2d 492, 494). We decline to disturb the Supreme Court's finding that there was no physical contact between the appellant's vehicle and an alleged hit-and-run vehicle (see Matter of Progressive Northeastern Ins. Co. v Sheikh, 40 AD3d 763, 764; Matter of Metropolitan Prop. and Cas. Co. v Sands, 5 AD3d 601, 602).

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