This opinion will be unpublished and
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 December 7, 1999
Affirmed in part and reversed in part
Ramsey County District Court
File No. C09812597
Robert W. Roe, Thomas J. Lyons & Associates, P.A., 1560 Beam Avenue, Suite A, St. Paul, MN 55109 (for respondent)
William M. Hart, Katherine A. McBride, 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 Willis, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Short, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
An arbitrator awarded Mariah Pususta compensation for all her medical expenses arising from an automobile accident that aggravated a pre-existing injury for which she was receiving treatment. The arbitrator neglected to award interest as required under Minn. Stat. § 65B.54, subd. 2 (1998); Minn. R. No-Fault Arb. 32. On appeal, State Farm Insurance Companies ("State Farm") argues the trial court erred by affirming the award and adding interest. We affirm in part and reverse in part.
D E C I S I O N
In the no-fault context, we defer to arbitrators’ findings of fact as final, but review questions of law de novo. Johnson v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 426 N.W.2d 419, 421 (Minn. 1988); Ortega v. Farmers Ins. Group, 474 N.W.2d 7, 9 (Minn. App. 1991). Courts must vacate awards only where arbitrators have clearly exceeded their powers. National Indem. Co. v. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., 348 N.W.2d 748, 750 (Minn. 1984); see also Minn. Stat. § 572.19, subd. 1(3) (1998) (providing court "shall" vacate award where arbitrators exceed their powers).
State Farm argues the arbitrator erred in awarding Pususta all her medical expenses under Minn. Stat. § 65B.44, subd. 2 (1998), because the award would reimburse Pususta for earlier injuries not "arising out of" the December 6, 1997 automobile accident. See Rodgers v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 499 N.W.2d 61, 64 (Minn. App. 1993) (requiring insurer to compensate insured only for medical expenses from injuries arising out of covered accident), review denied (Minn. June 22, 1993). But the Minnesota Supreme Court "cast a long shadow over" Rodgers. See Great West Cas. Co. v. Northland Ins. Co., 548 N.W.2d 279, 281 n.4 (Minn. 1996) (holding subrogation among no-fault insurers applied only to situations involving one accident). In Great West, the Supreme Court disagreed with Rodgers’s benefits apportionment, considering benefits "payable by the insurer when the insured incurs a compensable loss." Id. Considering the guidance provided by the supreme court in Great West, we cannot say the arbitrator and trial court erred in refusing to apportion Pususta’s medical expenses.
State Farm also argues Pususta failed to properly move the trial court to modify, correct, or vacate the arbitration award, and therefore the trial court erroneously modified the award by adding interest. A court’s power to modify an arbitration award is purely statutory. International Union of Elec. & Mach. Workers of Am., Local No. 1140 v. Portec, Inc., 303 Minn. 341, 343, 228 N.W.2d 239, 241 (1975); Minnesota Licensed Practical Nurses Ass’n v. Bemidji Clinic, Ltd., 352 N.W.2d 65, 67 (Minn. App. 1984). An application to modify an arbitration award must be made within 90 days after delivery of a copy of the award. Minn. Stat. § 572.20, subd. 1 (1998). Courts strictly enforce this 90-day time limit. Minnesota Licensed Practical Nurses, 352 N.W.2d at 67.
The record shows Pususta moved the trial court for interest on the award on February 19, 1999, nearly two months after expiration of the 90-day time limit. Under these circumstances, we conclude the trial court improperly exercised jurisdiction to modify the arbitrator’s award and, therefore, we reverse the award of interest. See National Indem. Co., 348 N.W.2d at 752 (holding arbitration statute does not permit court to award prejudgment interest where application for arbitration included interest as damages item, but arbitrator awarded none); Hanson v. Larson, 459 N.W.2d 339, 342 (Minn. App. 1990) (barring appellant from raising affirmative defense that could have been raised within the 90-day period, but was brought 4 years later), review denied (Minn. Oct. 18, 1990); Minnesota Licensed Practical Nurses, 352 N.W.2d at 67 (finding modification motion filed nearly one year after arbitration award untimely).
Affirmed in part and reversed in part.