Blog

A new caveat on the one year period to enter a judgment July 21, 2018

Josephson v State Farms Ins. Co., 2018 NY Slip Op 51132(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2018)

“In this action by a provider to recover assigned first-party no-fault benefits, plaintiff appeals from an order of the Civil Court which granted a motion by defendant State Farm Insurance Company (sued herein as State Farms Insurance Company) to vacate a default judgment that had been entered on February 9, 2016, upon defendant’s failure to appear at a calendar call of the case on June 30, 2008, and to dismiss the complaint pursuant to CPLR 3215 (c) for failure to enter the default judgment within one year. Plaintiff did not rebut defendant’s motion papers by demonstrating that it had taken proceedings for the entry of a judgment within one year of defendant’s calendar default on June 30, 2008 (see CPLR 3215 [a]). As CPLR 3215 (c) provides that “[i]f the plaintiff fails to take proceedings for the entry of judgment within one year after the default, the court shall not enter judgment but shall dismiss the complaint as abandoned, without costs, upon its own initiative or on motion, unless sufficient cause is shown why the complaint should not be dismissed,” the Civil Court did not abuse its discretion in [*2]granting defendant’s motion to vacate the default judgment and dismiss the complaint ”

We have seen the one year period to dismiss due to the failure to tale a default judgment when a  judgment it not taken within one year to answer or reply to a counterclaim.  This is a new twist.  When a calendar default occurs, the failure to enter a judgment within one year serves as an abandonment of the action.    I have never seen this one before but I will keep this case on my short list.

A declaratory judgment to nowhere July 21, 2018

Jamaica Wellness Med., P.C. v Mercury Cas. Co., 2018 NY Slip Op 51128(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2018)

Upon a review of the record, we find that, as the March 23, 2016 Supreme Court order in the declaratory judgment action merely awarded a default judgment to Mercury against Jamaica’s assignor, but did not declare the rights of Mercury as against Jamaica (see Hirsch v Lindor Realty Corp., 63 NY2d 878 [1984]; Suburban Bindery Equip. Corp. v Boston Old Colony Ins. Co., 150 AD2d 767 [1989]; Metro Health Prods., Inc. v Nationwide Ins., 48 Misc 3d 85[App Term, 2d Dept, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2015]), the Supreme Court order cannot be considered a conclusive final determination of Jamaica’s rights and, thus, can have no preclusive effect on the no-fault action at bar (see Promed Orthocare Supply, Inc. v AIG Advantage Ins. Co., 50 Misc 3d 128[A], 2015 NY Slip Op 51886[U] [App Term, 2d Dept, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2015]; cf. Vital Meridian Acupuncture, P.C. v Republic W. Ins. Co., 46 Misc 3d 147[A], 2015 NY Slip Op 50222[U] [App Term, 2d Dept, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2015]; EBM Med. Health Care, P.C. v Republic W. Ins., 38 Misc 3d 1 [App Term, 2d Dept, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2012]). Consequently, the Civil Court should not have dismissed the complaint based on the Supreme Court order. In light of the foregoing, we reach no other issue.

This embarrassment speaks for itself.

Where was the reasonable excuse? July 21, 2018

Two cases, differing fact patterns and no showing at all of a reasonable excuse.

Right Solution Med. Supply, Inc. v Republic W. Ins. Co., 2018 NY Slip Op 51125(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2018)

“In support of its motion, defendant submitted an affidavit by plaintiff’s assignor in which plaintiff’s assignor admitted that the December 21, 2009 accident underlying this no-fault proceeding had been staged, and an order dated April 26, 2013, from the Supreme Court, New York County, in a declaratory judgment action, entered on default, finding that defendant herein had no duty to pay any no-fault benefits to plaintiff herein and its assignor, among others, with respect to this accident. The Civil Court denied defendant’s motion, finding that defendant had failed to establish a reasonable excuse for its failure to proceed at trial.

Defendant’s motion should have been granted, as defendant demonstrated both a reasonable excuse for its failure to proceed at trial and a meritorious defense (see CPLR 5015 [a] [1]; Eugene Di Lorenzo, Inc. v A.C. Dutton Lbr. Co., 67 NY2d 138, 141 [1986]).”

Clearly, the affidavit of the Assignor was powerful tool in opening the default. I wish the Court was more honest and opened the default upon the residual inherent good cause and interest of justice discretion all trial courts and appellate courts have.  That would have been a more honest and better decision.

Allstate Ins. Co. v North Shore Univ. Hosp., 2018 NY Slip Op 05268 (2d Dept. 2018)

(1) “On January 29, 2015, the plaintiff commenced this action pursuant to Insurance Law [*2]§ 5106(c) for a de novo determination of the defendant’s claims for recovery of no-fault benefits. The plaintiff then moved for leave to enter a default judgment because the defendant failed to timely appear or answer the complaint. In an order entered April 21, 2015, the Supreme Court granted the plaintiff’s motion for leave to enter a default judgment. On June 8, 2015, the court entered a default judgment.

In July 2016, the defendant moved pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(1) to vacate its default, and pursuant to CPLR 2004 and 3012(d) to extend its time to answer the complaint. In an order entered October 19, 2016, the Supreme Court denied the motion, and the defendant appeals”

(2) In July 2016, the defendant moved pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(1) to vacate its default, and pursuant to CPLR 2004 and 3012(d) to extend its time to answer the complaint. In an order entered October 19, 2016, the Supreme Court denied the motion, and the defendant appeals.

The defendant’s motion was timely made (see CPLR 5015[a][1]; 2103[b][2]). A defendant seeking to vacate a default pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(1) on the ground of excusable default must demonstrate a reasonable excuse for the default and a potentially meritorious defense to the action (see CPLR 5015[a][1]; Eugene Di Lorenzo, Inc. v A.C. Dutton Lbr. Co., 67 NY2d 138, 141; EMC Mtge. Corp. v Toussaint, 136 AD3d 861, 862; Lane v Smith, 84 AD3d 746, 748). Here, the defendant demonstrated a reasonable excuse for its default and a potentially meritorious defense to the action

When I see 5015(a)(1) and 2103(b)(2) together, I am sensing that the one year period to vacate ran from when the order was mailed on arbitration counsel.  I just cannot tell from this decision, but it definitely opens up the door to vacturs of trial de novo defaults with the presentment of the right facts.

 

Did you go to the funeral? July 21, 2018

V.S. Med. Servs., P.C. v Allstate Ins. Co., 2018 NY Slip Op 51124(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2018)

‘We note that, although no appeal lies from a judgment entered on the default of the appealing party (see CPLR 5511), an appeal from such a judgment brings up for review those matters which were the subject of contest below (see James v Powell, 19 NY2d 249, 256 n 3 [1967]), which, in this case, was the Civil Court’s determination that plaintiff had defaulted by failing to satisfy the condition for the granting of an adjournment (see Park Lane N. Owners, Inc. v Gengo, 151 AD3d 874 [2017]; Delijani v Delijani, 100 AD3d 823 [2012]; Matter of Branch v Cole-Lacy, 96 AD3d 741 [2012]; Sarlo-Pinzur v Pinzur, 59 AD3d 607 [2009]).

“The granting of an adjournment for any purpose is a matter resting within the sound discretion of the trial court” (Matter of Anthony M., 63 NY2d 270, 283 [1984]), and the Civil Court acted within its discretion in conditioning the granting of an adjournment of the trial upon plaintiff’s providing proof of the funeral that its witness had allegedly been attending. However, we find that, in the circumstances presented, the Civil Court improvidently exercised its discretion in not allowing plaintiff’s witness to testify in order to try to provide the required proof. Consequently, we remit the matter to the Civil Court for a hearing to give plaintiff such an opportunity, following which the court shall determine whether it is satisfied with plaintiff’s proof.

Accordingly, the judgment, insofar as reviewed, is reversed, the determination that plaintiff had defaulted by failing to comply with a condition for the granting of an adjournment is vacated, and the matter is remitted to the Civil Court for a new determination, following a hearing, of whether plaintiff had satisfied the condition for the granting of an adjournment and for any and all further proceedings.”

Here’s a first.  A plaintiff could not prove its prima facie case because its biller failed to present proof (s)he had a funeral on the date of the trial.  Should Plaintiff prove its case, can Allstate prove they mailed the documents?

VA substantive law; NY Procedural law July 21, 2018

Acupuncture Now, P.C. v GEICO Ins. Co., 2018 NY Slip Op 51084(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2018)

“While defendant asserts that Virginia law applies to this case, as the insurance policy had been obtained in Virginia, and it insured a Virginia resident and vehicle, defendant failed to demonstrate that it had mailed its cancellation notice in accordance with its office practices and procedures (see St. Vincent’s Hosp. of Richmond v Government Empls. Ins. Co., 50 AD3d 1123 [2008]) “by registered or certified mail,” as required by the applicable statute (Va. Code Ann. § 38.2-2208 [A] [1] [a]). Consequently, the Civil Court should have denied the branch of defendant’s cross motion seeking summary judgment dismissing the complaint on the ground that defendant had properly cancelled the policy and that there was, therefore, no coverage at the time of the accident at issue.”

What is interesting here is that Civil Courts will apply substantive law from sister states but then apply NY procedural law.  This has been displayed many times (this is nothing new).  It appears “mailing” is procedural at best.