STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State Farm Mutual
Automobile Insurance Company,
Naima M. Ahmed,
Ramsey County District Court
File No. CX-03-8878
Kay Nord Hunt, Lommen, Nelson, Cole & Stageberg, P.A., 2000 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402; and
Patrick M. Conlin, Brett W. Olander & Associates, 1000 Fifth Street Center, 55 East Fifth Street, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101 (for respondent)
Rhett A. McSweeney, McSweeney & Fay, P.L.L.P., 800 Washington Avenue North, Suite 506, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Klaphake, Judge.
Minn. Stat. § 572.19, subd. 1(3) (2002) does not give the district court jurisdiction to entertain a challenge to an arbitrator’s interlocutory order concerning discovery matters before an award has been issued in a pending arbitration proceeding.
Appellant Naima M. Ahmed was injured in an automobile accident on May 24, 2002. Following the accident, appellant received medical and chiropractic treatment for her injuries. Respondent State Farm Insurance Company scheduled two independent medical examinations (IMEs) to determine whether appellant’s injuries were related to the car accident. Appellant failed to attend both IMEs, and respondent suspended appellant’s no-fault benefits. Appellant then petitioned for arbitration, seeking reimbursement under her no-fault insurance policy for the medical care she received.
The arbitrator set a hearing date, and respondent scheduled an IME for appellant, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 65B.56, subd. 1 (2002). Appellant failed to attend the IME and respondent requested that appellant’s claim be dismissed for failure to attend an IME. In response, appellant’s attorney notified the arbitrator that appellant was unable to attend the IME because she was in London for a family emergency, and that she would return in two weeks and attend an IME. The arbitrator continued the hearing to August 5, 2003, and ordered appellant to attend the next scheduled IME.
Respondent scheduled a second IME, in conjunction with the arbitration proceedings. Approximately one week before the second IME appointment, appellant’s attorney notified respondent that appellant would be unable to attend because she had not yet returned to the United States. Respondent rescheduled the IME, and simultaneously requested that the arbitrator dismiss appellant’s claim based on her failure to comply with the arbitrator’s order requiring her to submit to the next scheduled IME. Appellant failed to attend the rescheduled IME, and respondent renewed its request that the arbitrator dismiss appellant’s claim. At the August 5, 2003, hearing, the arbitrator did not dismiss appellant’s claim, but instead took evidence concerning appellant’s failure to attend any of the scheduled IMEs. Following the hearing, the arbitrator ordered appellant to attend the next scheduled IME and warned that failure to attend the IME would result in an award of costs against appellant. The arbitrator also continued the hearing for a second time, until October 14, 2003.
Respondent then sought relief in the district court from the arbitrator’s August 5, 2003 order, alleging that the arbitrator exceeded his powers under Minn. Stat. § 572.19, subd. 1(3) (2002). The district court vacated the arbitrator’s order, dismissed appellant’s claim for unreimbursed medical expenses, and awarded respondent costs. This appeal follows.
Is an arbitrator’s interlocutory order concerning compliance with independent medical examinations subject to district court review under Minn. Stat. § 572.19, subd. 1(3) (2002), prior to the completion of arbitration proceedings and the issuance of an award?
An interlocutory order dealing with discovery matters is not an award under Minn. Stat. § 572.19, subd. 1(3) (2002), and therefore the district court lacked jurisdiction to review the arbitrator’s order.