45-days…and then what? April 28, 2009

Upon a medical provider’s or Claimant’s violation of the 30-day rule or 45-day rule, and an insurance carrier’s timely denial thereto, what happens if a Plaintiff/Claimant subsequent to this denial proffers a reasonable justification for the late submission?

It would appear that the Carrier would have a real problem, since its only defense to payment of the otherwise valid claim would not be sustainable.

Such appears to be the case in the recent Appellate Term matter of:

Bronx Expert Radiology v Clarendon Natl. Ins. Co
2009 NY Slip Op 50747(U)(App. Term 1st Dept. 2009)

In Bronx Expert, a triable issue of fact was set forth as to the excuse for the late submission. Should the excuse for a late submission be deemed reasonable and sustained at trial or even on summary judgment, as a matter of law, then the carrier will have to pay the entire bill.

I suspect that the shrewd carrier, upon deciding to deny a bill for a 30-day rule or 45-day rule violation, would also adjust the bill from the standard medical management perspective. Accordingly, should the 30 or 45 day rule denial not hold, then a substantive defense could still be interposed.

My car was not there damnit! April 23, 2009

Mid Atl. Med., P.C. v Harleysville Worcester Ins. Co.
2009 NY Slip Op 50736(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2009)

One of the biggest problems medical providers dealing with assigned claims have is defending against certain coverage issues. This usually involves in hit and run cases, “it never happened cases” and even causation defenses, predicated upon a degeneration claim.

If a carrier’s papers are satisfactory on its motion for summary judgment and sufficient to shift the burden to the Assignee provider, then the provider many times needs to procure the assistance of its Assignor. And we all know the effort and sheer impossibility it many times takes to locate the Assignor.

That is what appears to have happened here. I would opine that this happens frequently on the “my car did not make contact with that person” or “It was not me” defense.

Here are the facts:

“In support of its motion, defendant annexed affidavits from its insured and its insured’s wife in which they stated that although they own a 1995 Oldsmobile, they live in Fredonia, New York and neither they nor their vehicle was involved in an accident in Brooklyn. They further stated that they are the only individuals who have access to their vehicle and that they have not been to Brooklyn in over 30 years.”

Plaintiff could not or did not procure an affidavit or other admissible proof to raise an issue of fact. Summary judgment was granted to Defendant.

Not only did Plaintiff lose, but here comes the real rub.

Plaintiff Assignor, who was probably a pedestrian, will probably be collaterally estopped from contesting in his or her BI or even UM case that he or she was hit by the 1995 Oldsmobile. This is classic Lobell.

I guess my thought, and you can tell me if I am wrong, is that you need to be really careful when litigating certain coverage issues in the context of an assigned no-fault case. You just never know when a potential malpractice claim may be brought by the Assignor, who is in privity with the Assignee, when that Assignor learns that he or she is collaterally estopped from bringing or succeeding on his or her BI or UM case.

I would go so far as to say that the minute a coverage issue that can really hurt an Assignor arises in an assigned no-fault action, execute a stip of discon. If the Defendant will not consent, then move to discontinue without prejudice.

Ortho Med Supply – more than meets the eye April 23, 2009

The recent trend in Appellate Term jurisprudence involving cases with (u) or Misc (a) cites is to take the approach that the Appellate Division, Second Department takes in terms of reasoning a case. The Court will cite to other precedent which, on their facts, should guide the reader as to what the law is in the matter sub judice. The other trend is for the courts to deem certain challenges “unpreserved” or unpreserved, yet without merit if preserved.

Ortho-Med Surgical Supply, Inc. v Mercury Cas. Co.
2009 NY Slip Op 50731(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2009)

If you read the facts of this case, you would think this is another “medical necessity” summary judgment motion that another carrier interposed. Yet, if you read the record on appeal, you would see something different.

This case involved a denial that on its face was dated one month previous to its generation date. Therefore, the denial was dated prior to the receipt date of the bill. The carrier, in their motion for summary judgment, presented an affidavit from someone with personal knowledge that this was a scrivener’s error and based upon a review of the computer records and the paper file, the denial was generated one month following the date set forth on the denial. The affidavit then went on to state that it was mailed in the manner consistent with properly dated denials. Thus, it was mailed on the date it should have been dated or the next business date, in accordance with the carrier’s standard mailing procedures.

Plaintiff opposed the motion and cross-moved, arguing that the denial was fatally defective. The carrier prevailed on its motion and the plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the plaintiff then went on to argue, besides its preserved argument, that the denial could not be considered a business record since it had the wrong date on it. If a denial is not deemed a business record, it may not be considered by the Court. Hospital v. Elrac and Montifiore v. Liberty stand for those propositions of law.

The carrier argued that a proper foundation was laid and any defects in the “business record” would go to the weight – not the admissibility – of the business record.

Following consideration of all the proofs, the Appellate Term affirmed the grant of summary judgment to the carrier.

Now if only the entire procedural history of this whole case were set forth in the opinion, it might be worth something more than a (u) cite.

But what I can say is that if a defect is not numerous and you spell it out in a decent affidavit, the Appellate Term will give you a pass.

Pine Hollow – dead April 17, 2009

It is nice to see the death of a case, which was improperly decided in the first instance. In many ways, it is a vindication to those of us who believed Pine Hollow created a scenario that left the business record rule, naked and without potency. Caruthers pretty much fixes up the mess Pine Hollow created.

But, the better question is whether one really needs to satisfy CPLR 4518(a) to make a prima facie case?

To be Lobelled April 14, 2009

I have always said that to understand no-fault, you need to understand bodily injury law. This is typified through instances where the result of an assigned no-fault case can fatally destroy the personal injury case for the assignor.

This issue I think rears its ugly head most often times in the so-called “causation” scenarios, where the defense to the no-fault claim is that the injuries are not causally related to the underlying motor vehicle accident. The question that arises is what happens to the corresponding personal injury claim of the assignor if the insurance carrier succeeds in proving this defense?

This is when one must understand the term: “to be lobelled”. Here is the case:

Lobel v. Allstate Ins. Co. 269 A.D.2d 502 (2d Dept. 2002).

“The defendant moved to dismiss the cause of action to recover no-fault benefits on the ground that it was barred by a prior arbitration proceeding between the plaintiff’s assignee and the defendant, which resulted in a determination that there was no casual connection between the plaintiff’s lower back condition and the subject automobile accident. The defendant demonstrated that the issue in the **489 arbitration proceeding was identical to and decisive of this cause of action. The plaintiff failed to establish the absence of a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the prior matter”.

I think the bolded words speak for themselves.

Oh yes, what about the IME cut-off that is upheld? How does this impact the assignor’s personal injury case? Barnett v. Ives 265 A.D.2d 865 (4th Dept.1994).

In Barnett, the Appellate Division held that an arbitration award which found that an injured person was not longer injured as a result of the accident, whether phrased as a causation or medical necessity determination, is collateral estoppel to the injured person in a personal injury case. As observed from the facts should you pull the case up, it is potentially catosrophic in terms of proving the two most potent 5102(d) categories: (a) Significant Limitation; and (b) Permanent Consequential. Furthermore, even if you can prove Significant Limitation or 90/180, an adervse arbitration ruling would knock out future damages, which many times is the crux of the BI case. It may also call into question the degree of actual injury, which may limit damages for past pain and suffering and past economic injury.