Eastern Section Reverses Finding that UM Carrier's Efforts to Avoid Arbitration were Flawed - Articles

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Posted by: Kreis White on Apr 1, 2014

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Thomas L. Kilday and Brandy M. Burnette, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.

Phillip L. Boyd, Rogersville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Linda F. Coffey and C. Wayne Coffey.


The issue presented in this appeal is whether the plaintiffs’ uninsured motorist insurance carrier preserved its rights to a jury trial and subrogation interest under Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-7-1206 (2008). This statute allows an uninsured motorist insurer to “elect to decline binding arbitration and preserve its subrogation rights” under certain prescribed circumstances. Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-7-1206(k). The trial court held that the uninsured motorist insurance carrier failed to comply with a local circuit court rule that requires a response to a motion to be filed and served on the movant no later than 30 days after the motion is filed. Pursuant to that local rule, the trial court treated the plaintiffs’ motion to compel arbitration as “unopposed.” The trial court further held that the uninsured motorist insurance carrier “did not strictly comply with the requirement of T.C.A. § 56-7-1206 objecting to arbitration” and ordered the parties to submit to binding arbitration. We hold that the uninsured motorist insurance carrier complied with the statute, thereby preserving its rights to a jury trial and subrogation, and that the local rule does not operate to abrogate these rights. The judgment of the trial court is vacated and this case is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

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