Matter of Andrews v. County of Rockland
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Justice Linda Jamieson
Andrews sought to overturn an arbitration decided against her in this personal injury action. She was injured when the Rockland County T.R.I.P.S. bus she was riding rounded a corner and she was thrown from her seat. The arbitrator concluded he did not need to decide if the driver was negligent as Andrews was not wearing a seatbelt, ruling she would not have fallen had she been wearing it, thus was barred from recovering regardless if respondent was negligent. The court concluded that while the award offered "barely colorable justification for the outcome reached," it was fatally flawed as the arbitrator failed to determine the percentage of culpability on Andrews' part for failing to wear her seatbelt, and the driver's part, if any. It noted the arbitrator appeared to have concluded the accident was solely Andrews' fault, but stated it was incumbent on the arbitrator to decide the percentage of liability attaching to each party. The court ruled it could not speculate as to the arbitrator's intent. It granted the petition to set aside the award and remanded the case to be heard by a different arbitrator.