may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State Farm Insurance Companies,
Filed June 8, 1999
Reversed and Remanded
Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part, Harten, Judge
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 9720137
Errol K. Kantor, Charles A. Beckjord, Errol K. Kantor & Associates, 1625 Park Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404 (for respondent)
William M. Hart, R. Gregory Stephens, Jenneane L. Jansen, Meagher & Geer, P.L.L.P., 4200 Multifoods Tower, 33 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Davies, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Harten, Judge.
Appellant insurer claims the district court erred by refusing to vacate an arbitrator's award of no-fault benefits. Appellant argues that the arbitrator exceeded his authority by awarding benefits even though respondent failed to attend an independent medical examination. We reverse the judgment confirming the award and remand.
In July 1995, respondent Elizabeth Chorske was injured in an automobile accident. During the next 11 months, she received medical treatment for injuries sustained in the accident. The cost of this treatment was paid by appellant State Farm Insurance Company, her no-fault provider.
In July 1996, respondent, on her own initiative, sought chiropractic care. When appellant received the chiropractor's first billing, it arranged an independent medical examination (IME) for respondent. Respondent advised appellant that she was unable to attend that IME because of her work schedule. Appellant twice rescheduled the IME, but both times respondent stated that she could not attend because of a work conflict. Following a third rescheduling, respondent informed appellant that she would attend no IME until the suspension of benefits was lifted and her chiropractic bills were paid.
When appellant declined to pay the charges until respondent attended an IME, respondent petitioned for no-fault arbitration, claiming that $6,074 in chiropractic bills and related costs should be paid under her policy. The arbitrator, without findings or explanation, awarded respondent $3,471. Appellant moved to vacate the award. The district court denied the motion and entered a judgment confirming the award. This appeal followed.
In reviewing an arbitration award, the district court may vacate the award if the arbitrator exceeded his or her powers. Minn. Stat. § 572.19, subd. 1(3) (1998). A reviewing court assumes an arbitrator did not exceed its authority, absent a clear showing that the arbitrator was unfaithful to its obligations. Keim v. Farm Bureau Ins. Co., 482 N.W.2d 823, 825 (Minn. App. 1992), review denied (Minn. May 21, 1992).
This case turns on two questions. The first is a question of law: When is an insurer entitled to deny benefits because its insured has not attended an IME as required by Minn. Stat. § 65B.56, subd. 1 (1998)? That statute provides:
Any person with respect to whose injury benefits are claimed under a plan of reparation security shall, upon request of the reparation obligor from whom recovery is sought, submit to a physical examination by a physician or physicians selected by the obligor as may reasonably be required.
This court recently addressed the issue of a claimant's failure to attend an IME. See Hovland v. State Farm Ins. Cos., ___ N.W.2d ___, 1999 WL 300892 (Minn. App. May 11, 1999). This court concluded that it is for the court to decide "the threshold issue of whether the insured has a legal duty to attend [an IME] even though the insurer has not paid all outstanding claims." Id. at ___, 1999 WL 300892 at *2. As a matter of law the "insured must attend [an IME] that is reasonable." Id. at ___, 1999 WL 300892 at *3. Hovland interprets Neal v. State Farm Mut. Ins. Co., 529 N.W.2d 330 (Minn. 1995), the leading supreme court case on a claimant's failure to attend an IME.
The second question is: On what factual findings is the arbitrator's award in this case premised? Here, the arbitrator provided neither findings nor a written explanation of his decision. This procedure is consistent with the rule that arbitrators generally are not required to state the reasons or factual basis for their decisions. Hilltop Constr., Inc. v. Lou Park Apartments, 324 N.W.2d 236, 239-40 (Minn. 1982). Further, this is not a question normally subject to judicial review. Hippe v. American Family Ins. Co., 565 N.W.2d 439, 441 (Minn. App. 1997) ("An arbitrator's factual findings are final.").
The district court, in confirming the arbitration award, speculated on the "possible reasoning" behind the award, stating:
[The arbitrator] could have reasonably concluded that State Farm's initial suspension of Ms. Chorske's benefits was not appropriate because Ms. Chorske's failure to attend an IME was reasonable. [The arbitrator] could have also reasonably determined that State Farm's subsequent and continued suspension of benefits was appropriate because of Ms. Chorske's lack of cooperation with the terms of the insurance contract.
Because the arbitrator and the district court made their decisions without the benefit of the guidance recently provided by Hovland, we are unwilling to accept the district court's suppositions. And, because we conclude that it is impossible to determine on the record presented whether respondent breached her legal duty to attend an IME as spelled out in Hovland, we cannot meaningfully review the legal issues the case presents. We are required to do that by American Family v. Johnson, 426 N.W.2d 419, 421 (Minn. 1988) (courts must determine legal issues under no-fault statutes).
We therefore reverse and remand with instructions for the district court either to vacate the award so the matter can be resubmitted for arbitration or to make a record, if that is possible, on which the district court can, under Hovland, justify confirming the arbitrator's award.
Reversed and remanded.
HARTEN, Judge (concurring in part, dissenting in part)
I agree with the court that the district court judgment confirming the arbitrator's award must be reversed and the award vacated. But I disagree that the case requires remand to the district court. Because there is no way beyond utter speculation to know the detailed basis for the arbitrator's award, a remand to the district court is futile and a waste of time. Moreover, the award remains tainted by the arbitrator's impermissible determination of a question of law. Accordingly, I respectfully dissent in part.
 The only way to make the record may be to have the parties stipulate, if they will.