• No Right of Appeal from Trial Court’s Order Arising under APDRA as to PIP Claim
  • February 19, 2015 | Author: Betsy G. Ramos
  • Law Firm: Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. - Mount Laurel Office
  • A dispute arose between a chiropractic provider, Complete Care, and an automobile insurer, GEICO, over personal injury protection (“PIP”) benefits. The insured, Walter Jones, was injured in an auto accident in 2007 and treated by Complete Care. When GEICO stopped paying his bills, Jones assigned his right to receive PIP benefits to Complete Care. In Complete Care v. GEICO, 2014 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2858 (App. Div. Dec. 11, 2014), both parties tried to appeal the trial court’s rulings to the Appellate Division.

    GEICO appealed the trial court’s decision, which was to remand the matter back to the DRP to put in the record findings as to the medical necessity for the treatment. Complete Care cross-appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in rejecting its position; that all of the treatments of Jones should have been compensable until the IME was furnished.

    The Appellate Division, however, dismissed both the appeal and the cross-appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction. The Alternative Procedure for Dispute Resolution Act (“APDRA”) makes it clear that the trial court’s appeal of an award entered under this statute is the final appeal. PIP arbitration is to be conducted under the procedures in this statute, and the DRP is governed by the Act. The pertinent statutory provision of the Act, N.J.S.A 2A:23A-18(b), specifically states: “There shall be no further appeal or review of the judgment or decree.”

    In only “rare” circumstances would an appeal be permitted in an APDRA matter. Here, there was nothing momentous, legally or factually, about this case. The sums in dispute were relatively small. There were no significant issues of public policy. The trial court judge did not act outside of the proper boundaries of the APDRA. Hence, the Appellate Division found that the entire appeal should be dismissed.