The plaintiff appeals from the trial court's judgment vacating the arbitrators' award.
The following facts are necessary for a resolution of this appeal. On December 23, 1988, while operating his employer's motor vehicle, the plaintiff was involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist. The accident
Under the terms of the policy and General Statutes § 38a-336 (c), the plaintiff's claim for uninsured motorist benefits was subject to arbitration before a three member panel. The defendant unsuccessfully moved that the arbitration be continued until the time that the plaintiff had been awarded workers' compensation benefits for the permanent partial disability that he claimed arose out of the accident.
During the course of the arbitration hearing, the parties presented the following evidence. The plaintiff lived on the third floor of his mother's house. At the time of the arbitration, the plaintiff was thirty-two years old and had lived on the third floor since the age of sixteen. The plaintiff testified at the hearing that he moved to the third floor because he "got fed up with [his family's] arguing. [He] had to go somewhere. [He] was out." There was conflicting testimony as to whether the plaintiff had running water on the third floor or had his own kitchen or bathroom facilities. The plaintiff paid rent to his mother and shared a stairway to gain access to the third floor. He occasionally drove his mother's car to work when it was too rainy to ride his bicycle.
The parties also stipulated that the plaintiff had received $16,387.32 in medical expenses and $28,736.25 in temporary total benefits, for a total of $45,123.57 from the workers' compensation carrier. The plaintiff's attorney stated that the plaintiff's physician assessed
On February 14, 1992, the arbitrators unanimously found the issue of liability and coverage in favor of the plaintiff. They also found the following: the claimant sustained permanent injuries and damages as a result of an automobile accident in the course of his employment at United Illuminating; United Illuminating provided $20,000 in uninsured motorist coverage and that that coverage is primary; the available uninsured motorist coverage afforded by CIGA is $299,900; and the defendant is entitled to a credit of $25,123.57, which is the balance of the workers' compensation credit agreed on by the parties after applying the first $20,000 to the primary coverage. The arbitrators, however, declined to find the amount of any award the workers' compensation commissioner might make and to credit that amount of workers' compensation yet to be paid against any amount due to the plaintiff from the defendant.
The plaintiff asserts that the trial court improperly vacated the arbitrators' unanimous finding that he was insured under his mother's automobile insurance policy by misapplying the substantial evidence rule and by failing to follow Connecticut precedent on what constitutes a family member's residency in a household. We agree.
When reviewing an arbitration panel's factual findings considering underinsured motorist coverage, our courts' standard of review is whether the arbitrators' findings are supported by substantial evidence. Rydingsword v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 224 Conn. 8, 21, 615 A.2d 1032 (1992); Chmielewski v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 218 Conn. 646, 660-61, 591 A.2d 101 (1991). The test in this context requires that a court determine whether substantial evidence exists in the "record to support the [arbitration panel's] findings of basic fact and whether the conclusions drawn from those facts are reasonable.... Substantial evidence will be found to exist if the ... record supplies a substantial basis of
To find that the plaintiff was covered by his mother's policy, the arbitrators needed to find that he was a resident in her household. In defining the terms "resident of the same household," our Supreme Court quoted Webster's Third New International Dictionary which defined "household" as: "'[T]hose who dwell under the same roof and compose a family: a domestic establishment; specif: a social unit comprised of those living together in the same dwelling place.'" Griffith v. Security Ins. Co., 167 Conn. 450, 454, 356 A.2d 94 (1975); Middlesex Mutual Assurance Co. v. Walsh, 218 Conn. 681, 686, 590 A.2d 957 (1991). On the basis of this definition, our courts have determined that there are two criteria that must be met for a person to qualify as a "resident of the same household." Lawrence v. New Hampshire Ins. Co., supra, 492. We determine first whether the evidence in this case was sufficient to establish that the plaintiff had a close, family-type relationship with the members of the D'Addio household. Middlesex Mutual Assurance Co. v. Walsh, supra; Lawrence v. New Hampshire Ins. Co., supra. We consider second whether the facts in this case were sufficient to establish that the plaintiff actually lived in the D'Addio household. Middlesex Mutual Assurance Co. v. Walsh, supra; Lawrence v. New Hampshire Ins. Co., supra.
Our independent review of the record presented to the trial court persuades us that the critical factual determination, that the plaintiff was a resident of the household, was supported by substantial evidence. See Chmielewski v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., supra, 660-61.
The plaintiff also asserts that the arbitrators' damage award was final, binding, and not reviewable for errors of law or fact. He contends that in addition to vacating the arbitrators' award improperly, the trial court, in the event that its judgment was reversed, gratuitously supported CIGA's claims for entitlement to credits for workers' compensation payments paid and payable to the claimant. He asserts that in effect the trial court subjected the entire arbitration award to de novo review.
The plaintiff further asserts that he is entitled to prejudgment interest from the date of the arbitration award, February 14, 1992. Because the trial court vacated the arbitrators' awards, it did not have the opportunity to adjudicate this claim. On remand, the trial court should address the issue of whether the plaintiff is entitled to prejudgment interest.
The defendant asserts that the trial court's judgment vacating the arbitrators' award should be affirmed on the alternative ground that there was arbitrator misconduct in refusing to grant the defendant's application for a continuance.
The judgment is reversed and the case is remanded to the trial court with direction to render judgment confirming the arbitrators' finding of coverage, for further proceedings to determine whether the plaintiff is entitled to prejudgment interest and with direction to remand the case for arbitration in accordance with the insurance policy to determine only the amount to be
In this opinion the other judges concurred.