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He couldn’t let it go. December 24, 2009

In my exploration of cases, I came across this really disturbing case.  What can someone do to provoke this type of reaction?

People v Stewart, 2009 NY Slip Op 09551 (3d Dept. 2009)

“While the victim, his friend and defendant were standing in line at a gas station, a petty argument arose. Rather than let it go, defendant drove his car into the victim, knocking him to the ground. Defendant then backed up and accelerated his car so the front tires drove over the victim. The victim was wedged underneath the car as defendant spun and smoked the tires, finally propelling the back tires over the victim. Defendant then drove away, leaving the victim lying in the parking lot with scrapes and burns over a large portion of his body, his hand.

Following a trial, the jury found defendant guilty of attempted murder in the second degree, assault in the first degree and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the second degree. County Court sentenced him to an aggregate term of 25 years in prison with five years of postrelease supervision. Defendant appeals.

The verdict was supported by legally sufficient evidence and is not against the weight of [*2]the evidence. For the attempted murder and assault charges, the testimony of the victim, his friend and two clerks from the gas station described defendant’s actions in hitting the victim with his car, then backing up only to accelerate and run over him. A doctor testified concerning the victim’s injuries, including the near amputation of his hand, the resulting blood loss and the permanent loss of normal use and function of the hand. Defendant’s intent can be inferred from the quarrel he had with the victim and his friend immediately prior to getting into his car, along with his actions in backing up and then accelerating over the victim after he was already on the ground.”

Finally, about the non-parolable sentence: “Considering defendant’s callous disregard for the victim’s life, criminal history (including 12 convictions in New York and convictions in two other states), lack of remorse and refusal to accept responsibility for his actions, County Court’s sentence was not unduly harsh or excessive (see People v Rollins, 51 AD3d 1279, 1282-1283 [2008], lvs denied 11 NY3d 922, 930 [2009]).”

He couldn't let it go. December 24, 2009

In my exploration of cases, I came across this really disturbing case.  What can someone do to provoke this type of reaction?

People v Stewart, 2009 NY Slip Op 09551 (3d Dept. 2009)

“While the victim, his friend and defendant were standing in line at a gas station, a petty argument arose. Rather than let it go, defendant drove his car into the victim, knocking him to the ground. Defendant then backed up and accelerated his car so the front tires drove over the victim. The victim was wedged underneath the car as defendant spun and smoked the tires, finally propelling the back tires over the victim. Defendant then drove away, leaving the victim lying in the parking lot with scrapes and burns over a large portion of his body, his hand.

Following a trial, the jury found defendant guilty of attempted murder in the second degree, assault in the first degree and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the second degree. County Court sentenced him to an aggregate term of 25 years in prison with five years of postrelease supervision. Defendant appeals.

The verdict was supported by legally sufficient evidence and is not against the weight of [*2]the evidence. For the attempted murder and assault charges, the testimony of the victim, his friend and two clerks from the gas station described defendant’s actions in hitting the victim with his car, then backing up only to accelerate and run over him. A doctor testified concerning the victim’s injuries, including the near amputation of his hand, the resulting blood loss and the permanent loss of normal use and function of the hand. Defendant’s intent can be inferred from the quarrel he had with the victim and his friend immediately prior to getting into his car, along with his actions in backing up and then accelerating over the victim after he was already on the ground.”

Finally, about the non-parolable sentence: “Considering defendant’s callous disregard for the victim’s life, criminal history (including 12 convictions in New York and convictions in two other states), lack of remorse and refusal to accept responsibility for his actions, County Court’s sentence was not unduly harsh or excessive (see People v Rollins, 51 AD3d 1279, 1282-1283 [2008], lvs denied 11 NY3d 922, 930 [2009]).”

A second pre-answer motion to dismiss is alright if it is the first one to be decided on its merits December 23, 2009

Chester Med. Diagnostic, P.C. v State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 2009 NY Slip Op 52598(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2009)

“On November 21, 2006, plaintiff, a provider, commenced the instant action to recover assigned first-party no-fault benefits for a claim which was submitted to defendant on April 28, 2000. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it was time-barred by the six-year statute of limitations. Plaintiff opposed defendant’s motion arguing that since this was defendant’s second pre-answer motion to dismiss, it was procedurally defective. The Civil Court granted defendant’s motion and dismissed the complaint. The instant appeal by plaintiff ensued.

A motion to dismiss a complaint pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) may be made at any time before service of the responsive pleading is required but no more than one such motion shall be permitted (see CPLR 3211 [e]). Where, as here, the original motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) is not decided on the merits, a subsequent motion to dismiss pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) does not violate the single motion rule set forth in CPLR 3211 (e)”

By the way, I was Respondent on this case.

On November 21, 2006, plaintiff, a provider, commenced the instant action to recover assigned first-party no-fault benefits for a claim which was submitted to defendant on April 28, 2000. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it was time-barred by the six-year statute of limitations. Plaintiff opposed defendant’s motion arguing that since this was defendant’s second pre-answer motion to dismiss, it was procedurally defective. The Civil Court granted defendant’s motion and dismissed the complaint. The instant appeal by plaintiff ensued.

A motion to dismiss a complaint pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) may be made at any time before service of the responsive pleading is required but no more than one such motion shall be permitted (see CPLR 3211 [e]). Where, as here, the original motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) is not decided on the merits, a subsequent motion to dismiss pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) does not violate the single motion rule set forth in CPLR 3211 (e)

What pedestrian? December 23, 2009

Andromeda Med. Care, P.C. v NY Cent. Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 2009 NY Slip Op 52601(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 200)

“In support of its motion, defendant annexed the affidavit of its insured, who averred that she had not hit any pedestrians. This affidavit was sufficient to demonstrate, prima facie, that “the alleged injur[ies] do[] not arise out of an insured incident”

You saw it again.  A medical provider prosecuted a causation case on behalf of a pedestrian and lost.  Now the pedestrian/assignor is collaterally estopped from litigating the causation issue in her potential personal injury claim against the driver of the vehicle that allegedly hit him.

If a court determines that there is privity between the plaintiff assignee’s attorney and the assignor and there is personal injury claim where the assignor is the plaintiff, then there might be a malpractice claim in the horizon.  Ouch.

On bad faith December 23, 2009

While doing research on certain nationwide principles of no-fault law, I came across an issue that I felt compelled to discuss: bad faith.  Dave Gottlieb at NFP has discussed this issue extensively.  While I disagree with his perspective, it is one that is shared by many.  Roy Mura also discusses this issue quite extensively at Coverage Counsel.

My view on “bad faith” has always been that penalty interest at a rate of 24% along with an attorney fee of 20% is sufficient to penalize a recalcitrant no-fault insurance carrier.  Those of us who litigate these cases on a regular basis know that many times a $3,000 case can yield interest in an amount commensurate if not greater than the said principle amount.  And then there is the attorney fee.

Off the beat and path, I came across Endo Surgical Center v. Allstate New Jersey Ins. Co., 2009 WL 4877155 (NJ Sup. Ct. App. Div. 2009).  The following represents the relevant portion of Endo Surgical Center:

“Plaintiff cites Pickett v. Lloyd’s, 131 N.J. 457 (1993) in support of its argument that defendant acted in bad faith by unnecessarily delaying the proceedings. Plaintiff’s reliance on Pickett is misplaced.

Plaintiff correctly cites Pickett for the general principle that an insurer owes a duty of good faith to its insured in processing a first-party claim, id. at 467, and that the insurer may be liable to its insured for consequential economic losses for the insurer’s bad faith in either delaying the processing of the claim or in failing to pay benefits, id. at 481. However, an insured’s right to pursue a common law action for consequential damages pursuant to Pickett is not applicable to PIP actions.Endo Surgi Ctr. v. Liberty Mut. Ins., 391 N.J.Super. 588, 592-96 (App.Div.2007). Rather, because PIP benefits are statutory in nature, “the sole remedy for a wrongful denial of PIP benefits is an award of the interest mandated by N.J.S.A. 39:6A-5(h) and attorney’s fees.Id. at 594.

What is more, even if Pickett was applicable to the present matter, we are satisfied that plaintiff’s bad faith claim fails as a matter of law. Pursuant to Pickett, if a claim is “fairly debatable,” bad faith is not established. Id. at 473. Under that standard, “a claimant who could not have established as a matter of law a right to summary judgment on the substantive claim would not be entitled to assert a claim for an insurer’s badfaith refusal to pay the claim.” Ibid.

Interesting.