Intersection between collateral source hearing and no-fault


Having been involved in the thicket of the collateral source hearing, it can be very frustrating to obtain the information and evidence necessary to oftentimes reduce the medical and wage portion of a verdict that is being compensated through another source.


Here, contrary to the plaintiff’s contention, the Workers’ Compensation and Social Security benefits that she was receiving as a result of the 2002 accident constitute a collateral source that could potentially offset her award from this action to recover damages in connection with the 2010 accident. Both the plaintiff and her vocational rehabilitation specialist testified that the plaintiff’s benefits would have ceased if she had begun to work again. Therefore, although the

(1) “plaintiff was not receiving Workers’ Compensation and Social Security benefits as a result of the 2010 accident, under the unique circumstances of this case, those benefits constituted collateral sources that could potentially offset her award”

(2) “However, the defendants, who did not submit any documentation from the Social Security Administration and who elicited the plaintiff’s inconsistent testimony as to the amounts she was receiving per month in Social Security disability benefits, failed to establish with reasonable certainty that the plaintiff had been receiving, or would continue to receive, Social Security disability payments”

(3) “Additionally, the defendants failed to establish with reasonable certainty that they paid for some of the plaintiff’s past medical bills through no-fault insurance. At the collateral source hearing, the plaintiff testified that she had taken out a loan of approximately $60,000 to pay for some of her treatment, and that some of her treating physicians had taken liens against her. Further, the defendants offered only copies of the plaintiff’s medical bills without any testimony from an expert or no-fault insurance adjuster to explain them (see Lahren v Boehmer Transp. Corp., 49 AD3d 1186, 1188). This evidence was insufficient to establish with reasonable certainty which portions, if any, of the plaintiff’s bills the defendants had paid”

Here, the Defendant’s failed to obtain the SSD records and therefore could not reduce past wages.  More problematic, Defendant failed to subpoena that no-fault carrier in order to obtain the proofs necessary to show the portions of the past medical billings that were paid or should have been paid under the PIP policy.

The issue in collateral source hearings is that you are attempting to obtain evidence, never received in disclosure after you got the hell beaten out of you at trial.  In addition, you need to prove the issue through clear and convincing evidence.  Not an easy task.

Police report and CPLR 4518(a)

Shehab v Powers, 2017 NY Slip Op 03790 (2d Dept. 2017)

“Information in a police accident report is “admissible as a business record so long as the report is made based upon the officer’s personal observations and while carrying out police duties” (Memenza v Cole, 131 AD3d 1020, 1021; see Matter of Chu Man Woo v Qiong Yun Xi, 106 [*2]AD3d 818, 819; Yeargans v Yeargans, 24 AD2d 280, 282). Conversely, information in a police accident report is inadmissible where the information came from witnesses not engaged in the police business in the course of which the memorandum was made, and the information does not qualify under any other hearsay exception (see Matter of Chu Man Woo v Qiong Yun Xi, 106 AD3d at 819; Holliday v Hudson Armored Car & Courier Serv., 301 AD2d 392, 396).

Here, the Supreme Court did not err in redacting certain information from the police report with respect to the location of the accident. There was insufficient evidence at trial to demonstrate that the disputed information was derived from the personal observations of the responding police officer, who did not witness the subject accident (see Wynn v Motor Veh. Acc. Indem. Corp., 137 AD3d 779, 780; Memenza v Cole, 131 AD3d at 1022; Noakees v Rosa, 54 AD3d 317, 318; Gagliano v Vaccaro, 97 AD2d 430). Moreover, the court did not err in precluding the plaintiff from cross-examining his own witness, the responding police officer, with respect to the accident location”

The police report many times is a vital piece of information in PI cases.  The rules regarding their admissibility becomes a hot bed of issues.

Business records and copies

76-82 St. Marks, LLC v Gluck, 2017 NY Slip Op 01329 (2017)

(1) “Moreover, the Supreme Court properly determined that the proffered copy of the guaranty was inadmissible as secondary evidence of the terms of the guaranty or pursuant to CPLR 4539(a). Under an exception to the best evidence rule, “secondary evidence of the contents of an unproduced original may be admitted upon threshold factual findings by the trial court that the proponent of the substitute has sufficiently explained the unavailability of the primary evidence and has not procured its loss or destruction in bad faith”.  (Compare this to 4539[b] – note the differences in foundations)

(2) “The plaintiff’s principal was not present when the original guaranty was executed, and thus could not testify as to whether the original guaranty was similarly missing a portion of paragraph 4, while Gluck testified that the guaranty she executed contained complete paragraphs. Further, the copy was not satisfactorily identified as a copy of the guaranty so as to be admissible as a reproduction pursuant to CPLR 4539(a)”

(3) “Furthermore, Gluck is correct that the plaintiff failed to make a prima facie case regarding its damages, since the summary chart of charges and payments made under the lease was prepared solely in anticipation of litigation and should not have been received in evidence, and the plaintiff failed to provide any underlying documents to establish the proper charges and payments made”

Just amazing how another Plaintiff came to court unprepared to put documents into evidence.


Business record discussion in foreclosures

CitiMortgage, Inc. v McKinney, 2016 NY Slip Op 08037 (2d Dept. 2016)

“Stringer further asserted that she was personally familiar with the plaintiff’s record-keeping practices and procedures, the records were made in the regular course of business, it was the regular course of the plaintiff’s business to make them, and the records were made at or near the time of the occurrence of the matters set forth in the records. This was sufficient to establish, prima facie, that the plaintiff was the holder of the note at the time the action was commenced (see CPLR 4518[a];”

Business records play a much less prominent role nowadays in our realm of practice.

Another unsuccessful 4518(a) challenge

Sin Med., P.C. v Travelers Ins. Co., 2016 NY Slip Op 51246(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2016)

(1) Contrary to the Civil Court’s conclusion, defendant’s failure to establish that the EUO scheduling letters constituted evidence pursuant to the business records exception to the rule against hearsay as set forth in CPLR 4518 is of no consequence. Defendant did not offer the EUO scheduling letters to establish the “truth” of any matters asserted therein, but rather to show that the letters had been sent. As the letters were not offered for a hearsay purpose, they did not need to qualify as business records pursuant to CPLR 4518

(2) Furthermore, defendant established, based upon sworn stenographic transcripts, that plaintiff’s assignor had failed to appear for the duly scheduled EUOs

The 4518 argument lost luster when the Court held that policy declaration sheets did not have to be in evidence to be considered along with denial of  claim forms.  By analogy, EUO letters and IME letters were next to be considered under the “it is not a 4518 rule” doctrine.

The EUO bust statement as a business record

Charles Deng Acupuncture, P.C. v Titan Ins. Co., 2016 NY Slip Op 26211 (Civ. Ct. Kings Co. 2016)

The Court here  stated the following:

(1) “The only remaining issue before the Court is whether or not the EUO transcripts allegedly generated at the scheduled EUOs are business records which may be used to show that the respective providers failed to appear at their scheduled EUOs, and the weight to give these records if they are admissible.”

(2) “There is no question that the certified EUO transcripts can be used in a motion for summary judgment (see MML Med. Care, P.C. v Praetorian Ins. Co. 2014 NY Slip Op 51792[U]; Active Chiropractic, P.C. v Praetorian Ins. Co. 2014 NY Slip Op 50634[U], Active Chiropractic, P.C. v Praetorian Ins. Co. 2014 NY Slip OP 50634[U]), but there appears to be no cases on “all fours” concerning the use of such EUO transcripts at trial.”

I would submit that the case  Allstate Ins. Co. v. Pierre, 123 A.D.3d 618, 618 (1st Dept. 2014)(“Plaintiff also established that the statements on the record were business records”) would have easily disposed of the issue in this case   What is flustering to me is that the Court never cites to Pierre and it looks like Defendant failed to cite to the case.

Two more comments here that I want to share.  This case underscores why it is worth the extra $100 (per no show) to obtain a bust statement.  First, you do not have “the partner affirmation”, which the Appellate Term has continuously rejected.  One wonders if that affirmation is tantamount to legal malpractice at this point.  Second, you have a documentary basis for asserting the fact of the no-show.  If the case goes to trial, you have evidence that can prove the defense.  Counsel here for defendant properly represented their client in this regard.

A final confession here.  For many years, I was not sold on the bust statement.  I have also proven that a well worded affidavit can meet even the demanding Appellate Term Second Department standard for a no-show.  But those “partner affidavit” cases admittedly have scared me and many others out there.  A bust statement is just a better practice because of its durability and contemporaneity of the event being recorded.    The old adage comes to play:  “fool me once, shame on you.  fool me twice, shame on me.”

A Wagman/Bradshaw foundation is necessary for EMG/NCV results

Ramjit v Motor Veh. Acc. Indem. Corp., 2016 NY Slip Op 26153 (App. Term 2d Dept. 2016)
“In this action to recover for personal injuries allegedly sustained in a motor vehicle accident, liability had been determined, and the matter went to trial on the issue of damages. Over defendant’s objection, the Civil Court admitted into evidence electrodiagnostic test reports which had been prepared by a doctor who did not testify. The court determined that the records were admissible pursuant to CPLR 3122-a and CPLR 4532-a. Plaintiff’s examining doctor testified that his range of motion testing revealed restrictions as compared to normal in plaintiff’s cervical spine. However, he expressly stated that his diagnosis of cervical and lumbar radiculopathy “was based upon the electrodiagnostic testing reports.” The witness admitted that he had not performed the electrodiagnostic tests, and never testified that he had interpreted the data himself. Following the close of defendant’s case, the jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff, finding that plaintiff had sustained serious injuries under the significant limitation of use and consequential limitation of use categories of Insurance Law § 5102 (d). As limited by its brief, defendant appeals from so much of the judgment, entered upon the jury’s verdict, as awarded plaintiff the principal sum of $50,000.”

It is not clear whether plaintiff’s expert witness relied only upon the raw data contained in the reports (see CPLR 4532-a) or whether he relied, to any extent, upon the interpretations and diagnosis of the reporting doctor also set forth in the reports. “A written report prepared by a nontestifying doctor interpreting the results of a medical test is not admissible into evidence” (D’Andraia v Pesce, 103 AD3d 770, 771 [2013]; see Clevenger v Mitnick, 38 AD3d 586 [2007]; DeLuca v Ding Ju Liu, 297 AD2d 307 [2002]; Wagman v Bradshaw, 292 AD2d 84 [2002]). Plaintiff did not demonstrate that the reports fell within an exception to the rule against hearsay and, upon a review of the record, we cannot conclude that any cumulative effect of the jury’s access to the electrodiagnostic test reports was harmless error (see Clevenger, 38 AD3d at 587).  Thus, contrary to the Civil Court’s finding, the electrodiagnostic test reports should not have been admitted.

This is pretty large for the simple fact that if the testifying expert cannot read the raw data that an EMG/NCV produces, then the expert does not have a valid opinion.

It is not hearsay: 4518 and 4539

Brand Med. Supply, Inc. v Infinity Ins. Co., 2016 NY Slip Op 50738(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2016)

(1) “In support of its defense of exhaustion of the policy limits, defendant unsuccessfully attempted to have the applicable insurance policy’s declaration page, which set forth, among other things, the coverage limits of the policy (see e.g. Matter of Government Empls. v Ally, 106 AD3d 736 [2013]; Matter of State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v Gray, 68 AD3d 1002 [2009]), admitted into evidence. Upon a review of the record, we find that the Civil Court erred in excluding the insurance policy declaration page from evidence. Defendant was not required to lay a CPLR 4518 (a) foundation for the declaration page, since a declaration page is not hearsay, but rather, as part of an insurance contract, it “has independent legal significance and need only be authenticated to be admissible””

(2) “Here, the testimony of defendant’s senior no-fault representative sufficiently identified the document as an accurate representation of the declaration page which defendant maintained electronically (see CPLR 4539 [a]; Kaliontzakis v Papadakos, 69 AD3d 803[2010]). Furthermore, in describing defendant’s procedure for generating a declaration page, defendant’s witness satisfactorily set forth the “manner or method in which tampering or degradation of the reproduction is prevented” (CPLR 4539 [b]).”

What I want to know is why counsel could not get the document in as a business record?  I am very much curious as to what happened here.  Very curious.

The hospital record admission is admissible (not necessarily as a business record)

Robles v Polytemp, Inc., 2015 NY Slip Op 03341 (2d Dept. 2015)

“The plaintiff contends that the Supreme Court erred in denying his request, made at the outset of the trial on the issue of damages, to redact entries in his hospital records which indicated that he was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the subject accident. A hearsay entry in a hospital record is admissible under the business records exception to the hearsay rule only if the entry is germane to the diagnosis or treatment of the patient (see Gunn v City of New York, 104 AD2d 848, 849). However, if the entry is inconsistent with a position taken by a party at trial, it is admissible as an admission by that party, even if it is not germane to diagnosis or treatment, as long as there is “evidence connecting the party to the entry”.

Watering down 4518(a) to historic lows

Portfolio Recovery Assoc., LLC v Lall, 2015 NY Slip Op 03284 (1st Dept. 2015)

For anyone who is worried about what a reversal of Vivanne Etienne and the professional affidavit signing doctor could mean, you only need to read Portfolio to see what CPLR 4518(a) really means in the world of assigned debt.

(1) “Plaintiff’s proof of the underlying debt obligation was shown through defendant’s testimony that he used the credit card issued by plaintiff’s assignor and by the self-authenticating account statements (see Merrill Lynch Bus. Fin. Servs. Inc. v Trataros Constr., Inc., 30 AD3d 336 [1st Dept 2006], lv denied 7 NY3d 715 [2006]).”

Key line from Merrill Lunch

(“The amount of the indebtedness was established by the self-authenticating monthly statements of account sent to defendants and setting forth the balance due on the loan (see Elkaim v Elkaim, 176 AD2d 116, 117 [1991], appeal dismissed 78 NY2d 1072 [1991]). Moreover, a proper business records foundation for these statements was laid by plaintiff’s witness, who testified, inter alia, that plaintiff relies on these statements in the regular course of its business even though they were prepared not by plaintiff but for plaintiff by a sister company“)

(2) “Evidence of the assignment of defendant’s account was the affidavit of sale, which, although created by the assignor, was properly introduced as a business record through the testimony of plaintiff’s employee (see Landmark Capital Invs., Inc. v Li-Shan Wang, 94 AD3d 418, 419 [1st Dept 2012]). Plaintiff’s reliance on documents of this type was a sufficient basis on which to permit its employee to lay the [*2]foundation for the admission of the affidavit of sale; contrary to defendant’s contention, it was not necessary that there be a special relationship between plaintiff and its assignor.”

This is a sad case on the state of evidence law in this state.  Allowing a purchaser of debt to lay a foundation for the admission of an original creditor’s documents is patently unfair, especially when the debt purchaser has no knowledge of what the original creditor did.

This case conflicts with: Unifund CCR Partners v. Youngman, 89 A.D.3d 1377 (4th Dept. 2011)