AutoOwners not allowed to void or contest the decision of arbitrator; argument that claim response was a formal denial is deemed absurd
Michele DuPree was forced to sue Auto Owners to enforce the decision of the arbitration panel whom the parties chose to decide DuPree's Replacement Cost claims. Even after the appraisal/arbitration process ended in a judgment in DuPree's favor, Auto Owners attempted to require her to produce receipts in order to enforce the decision. The Court held that Auto Owners was illegally attempting to undermine the judgment and to challenge the arbitrators' decision.
AutoOwners also argued that DuPree's patience in wading through this process should be "rewarded" by a ruling that she could not enforce the judgment because she didn't sue within one year of AutoOwners' formal denial. Under Michigan law, the statute of limitations for a casualty claim is "tolled" or extended during negoitations and investigation, but begins to run when a "formal" denial is issued. AutoOwners' argued that its adjuster's letter that called plaintiff's receipts "incomplete and insufficient" but then stated "I look forward to... helping [you] complet the claim" ABSOLUTELY COULD NOT be interpreted as an "explicit and unequivocal" expression that she must "pursue further relief in court."