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Tentative Ruling
Judge Thomas Anderle
Department 3 SB-Anacapa
1100 Anacapa Street P.O. Box 21107 Santa Barbara, CA 93121-1107

CIVIL LAW & MOTION

Raul Bentacourt vs State Farm Insurance Company

Case No: 1440316
Hearing Date: Tue May 13, 2014 9:30

Nature of Proceedings: Petition Arbitration

Petition for Appointment of Arbitrator and Order setting arbitration completion date

 

RULING

 

This matter is set for a Case Management Conference on November 18, 2014, at 8:30 am for a status report; the Court expects the case to be resolved or at least under submission on that date; no appearance is necessary if the file reflects the Petition has been dismissed or the case resolved; in any event this Court does not relinquish jurisdiction to make whatever orders that might be appropriate or necessary at any time.

 

BACKGROUND

 

This Petition was filed on March 6, 2014; State Farm Insurance Company had issued to Petitioner an uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage policy; Petitioner was subsequently injured in an auto accident; negligent party was covered by an insurance policy with Dairyland Insurance carrying only $15,000 per person limits; the case was settled in November 2013 for $15,000; underinsured and under-insured motorist claims are resolved by binding arbitration; Petitioner made several demands on State Farm setting out proposed arbitrators; State Farm did not respond at first and when it did, they did not agree to any of the Arbitrators proposed by Petitioner after several communications between December19, 2013, and March 5, 2014, when Petitioner sought Court intervention; seeks a “deadline for the completion of the under-insured arbitration” no more than 90 days from March 5, 2014 (the date the Petition was signed); supports Petition with Exhibits A through E.

 

RESPONSE

 

The Response was filed April 14; agrees that this is an underinsured motorist claim and agrees it must be resolved by arbitration; State Farm has not refused to arbitrate; moreover it has agreed to Hon. Bruce Sottile as an Arbitrator in a letter of March 10, 2014 (attached as Exhibit 1); is amenable to scheduling arbitration for a “reasonable, mutually available date in the foreseeable future; points out Petitioner cites no authority supporting a court ordered arbitration completion date; that the Insurance Code specifies a completion date for within five years from the institution of the arbitration; that the Court may not set another earlier date; requests the Court to take the matter off calendar as moot or deny the petition.

 

REPLY

None filed.

 

ANALYSIS

 

 

It is clear an Arbitrator has now been selected (albeit the Court notes it was not done until after the Petition had been filed and after a number of communications between December 19 and March 10). That leaves only the question of whether the Court has any jurisdiction over the issue of the completion date of the arbitration. This Court has not had any experience with defense counsel or this particular Insurance Carrier that would cause this Court any concern that there might be deliberate efforts to delay; indeed, my experience has actually been to the contrary; I have good reason to believe the matter will be promptly calendared and resolved.

 

At the same time the legislature has made it abundantly clear that the courts are encouraged, if not mandated, to make every reasonable effort to get litigation in general, and certainly such routine matters as this, resolved within one year from the date filed; the Court believes such direction is reasonable; this case was first addressed by Petitioner to State Farm on December  19, 2013; I have an expectation, with such competent lawyers involved, that this case will be resolved by December 19, 2014; now that it has been filed, I am charged with the case until it is completed; thus there will be a further Case Management Conference set for 8:30 am on December 2, 2014, for a status report; the Court expecting the case to be resolved or at least under submission by that date; no appearance is necessary if the file reflects the Petition has been dismissed or the case resolved; in any event this Court does not relinquish jurisdiction to make whatever orders that might be appropriate or necessary at any time.