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Staged accident stayFebruary 11, 2015

Matter of Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v Young, 2015 NY Slip Op 00377 (2d Dept. 2015)

“A deliberate collision by an insured is not a covered event under an insurance policy (see Matter of Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v Goddard, 29 AD3d 698, 699; State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v Laguerre, 305 AD2d 490, 491;Matter of Metro Med. Diagnostics v Eagle InsCo., 293 AD2d 751, 751-752). Here, the strong circumstantial evidence at the framed-issue hearing established that [*2]Trotman intentionally caused the collision between his vehicle and Young’s vehicle. In finding otherwise, the Supreme Court focused entirely on whether Trotman’s vehicle suffered any damage, rather than on the totality of the evidence (see generally A.B. Med. Servs., PLLC v State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 7 Misc 3d 822 [Civ Ct, Kings County]). Accordingly, because the evidence at the hearing established that Trotman intentionally caused the collision with Young’s vehicle, the collision between the two vehicles was not a covered event under Trotman’s policy with GEICO. Therefore, the Supreme Court erred in entering a judgment granting Liberty Mutual’s petition for a permanent stay of arbitration of Young’s claim for uninsured motorist benefits on the ground that Trotman’s vehicle was insured and directing GEICO to defend and indemnify Trotman with respect to the subject accident (see Matter of Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v Goddard, 29 AD3d at 699).”

By the way, you should note in this case that Geico (third party liability carrier) disclaimed coverage.  Liberty Mutual (first-party UM carrier) lost its Petition despite proof that it was a staged accident.  This may very well limit the application of “from the eyes of the injured person perspective” to first-party coverage.

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