Court holds that prevailing No Fault claimant cannot insist on declaratory ruling by the Court
Julian LaFontsee was forced to sue his own Home-Owners Insurance Company for No Fault PIP benefits after he was hurt in a car wreck. His case was sent to Case Evaluation, where an experienced, neutral panel of lawyers recommended an $85,000.00 resolution. Both parties accepted, and in response the Court immediately dismissed LaFontsee's lawsuit. LaFontsee appealed this result, arguing that he was entitled to a hearing before the Court and a Declaratory Judgment to confirm his entitlement to future benefits.
The Court of Appeals rejected his argument, 2-1. The majority interpreted the operative court rule to require the immediate dismissal of the lawsuit after bilateral acceptance of case evaluation. The dissenting judge argued that the proper reading of the Supreme Court's amendment to the rule would allow for a Declaratory Judgment ruling that might obviate the need for future lawsuits.