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Lanctot v. Dasari

Superior Court of Rhode Island

July 24, 2014

MARCELLE LANCTOT
v.
THULASI DASARI

Providence County Superior Court

For Plaintiff: Stephen G. Linder, Esq.

For Defendant: Jackson Jones, Esq.

DECISION

VAN COUYGHEN, J.

The matter before this Court is Plaintiff Marcelle Lanctot's Petition to Vacate and/or Correct Arbitration Award and Defendant Thulasi Dasari's Motion to Enforce Arbitration Agreement.[1] Jurisdiction is pursuant to G.L. 1956 §§ 10-3-12 and 10-3-14.

I

Facts and Travel

Underlying the instant action is a motor vehicle accident that occurred on February 8, 2010 in Lincoln, Rhode Island. The accident involved three vehicles: one driven by Plaintiff, one driven by Defendant, and one driven by an Unidentified Motorist.

On January 10, 2014, Plaintiff and Defendant voluntarily entered into a Binding Arbitration Agreement with respect to the automobile accident. The Unidentified Motorist has neither been identified nor located and was not a party to the arbitration. The Arbitration Agreement expressly stated "that the parties have agreed to resolve the claim by binding arbitration." Arbitration Agreement, 1. The remainder of the Arbitration Agreement dealt with limitations on damages. The Arbitration Agreement provided that the maximum award Plaintiff could receive would be $50, 000, inclusive of interest, and that the minimum award would be $0. The Arbitration Agreement further provided that "[i]n the event that an Award is rendered between the high and the low limits, [Plaintiff] agrees to accept said amount." Arbitration Agreement, ¶ 5. The Arbitrator was not notified of the high and low limits.

The arbitration occurred On January 17, 2014. On January 29, 2014, the Arbitrator issued his decision. The Arbitrator found that Defendant was ten percent liable, Plaintiff was twenty-five percent liable, and the Unidentified Motorist was sixty-five percent liable. The Arbitrator found that Plaintiff's total damages were $106, 500 for bodily injury and $2150 for motor vehicle damage. The monetary award against Defendant, and for Plaintiff, was commensurate with Defendant's percentage of negligence. The Arbitrator found that Plaintiff's total damages were $10, 650 for bodily injury and $215 for property damage, plus statutory interest in the amount of forty-seven percent. [2]

During arbitration, Plaintiff argued that the joint tortfeasor doctrine should apply. The Arbitrator acknowledged the joint tortfeasor doctrine in his decision, stating "Plaintiff raised the argument of joint tortfeasors." Arbitration Award, 4. The Arbitrator commented only that the "issue cannot be addressed until the uninsured motorist claims are resolved" and that he "[would] leave it to the parties to resolve that aspect of the case." Id.

Defendant subsequently took action to provide compensation equal to the ten percent liability, plus interest, attributed to her by the Arbitrator.[3] Plaintiff has petitioned this Court to vacate and/or correct the arbitration award and find as follows: (1) Defendant is jointly and severally liable and (2) Defendant is liable for $50, 000 on account of the terms of the Arbitration Agreement. Defendant, comparatively, seeks a court order confirming the Arbitration decision and limiting her personal share of damages to a monetary award matching the ten percent liability attributed to her by the Arbitrator.

II

Standard of Review


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