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Defaults…November 4, 2017

Hurgada Physical Therapist, P.C. v NY Cent. Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 2017 NY Slip Op 51449(U)

“In this action by a provider to recover assigned first-party no-fault benefits, the Civil Court (Carolyn E. Wade, J.), by order entered May 2, 2011, granted, on default, defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, declining to consider plaintiff’s late opposition to the motion. Plaintiff subsequently moved, pursuant to CPLR 5015 (a) (1), to vacate the order entered May 2, 2011. Plaintiff appeals from an order of the Civil Court (Wavny Toussaint, J.), entered March 6, 2012, which denied that motion.

In support of its motion, plaintiff was required to establish, among other things, a reasonable excuse for its default (see CPLR 5015 [a] [1]; Eugene Di Lorenzo Inc. v A.C. Dutton Lbr. Co., 67 NY2d 138 [1986]). Here, plaintiff failed to demonstrate that it had a reasonable excuse for failing to timely submit written opposition to defendant’s prior motion, as the excuse offered by plaintiff’s attorney was, in effect, that her late submission “was the result of her heavy workload,” which “amount[s] to nothing more than mere neglect, which is not accepted as an excusable default” (A.B. Med., PLLC v CNA Ins. Co., 46 Misc 3d 144[A], 2015 NY Slip Op 50199[U], *1 [App Term, 2d Dept, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2015]; see Strunk v Revenge Cab Corp., 98 AD3d 1029 [2012]; State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v Preferred Trucking Serv. Corp., 42 Misc 3d 88 [App Term, 2d Dept, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2013]).”

It is one thing to give somebody enough rope to hang themselves.  It is another thing to be the hangman. Invariably, in 10 situations where a case is problematic, the former will occur a few times.   If I like the person or the firm, I will throw out a life raft and let them know what they did wrong so they can fix it before judgment day comes.  Otherwise, I will just be there for the ride and snicker to myself.  True story, really.

Here, the plaintiff’s papers were late and I am sure counsel for Defendant was not prejudiced.  I also know this particular counsel for Plaintiff will not go out his way to hurt people, so this type of behavior is troubling  Yet, counsel for Defendant affirmatively screamed out that the ridiculous briefing stipulation was breached and, therefore, Defendant would object to the answering papers.  Congratulations, you got a default and won on appeal.  Wait until the shoe is on the other foot young man.  The hangmen are waiting for you.

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