Can’t backdoor the Master award through a DJ

Hereford Ins. Co. v Iconic Wellness Surgical Servs., LLC, 2019 NY Slip Op 50801(U)(App. Term 1st Dept. 2019)

“Civil Court erred in vacating the master arbitrator’s no-fault award on the ground that it is contrary to a subsequent order rendered by the Supreme Court, New York County, which declared that petitioner-insurer is not liable for no-fault benefits arising from the underlying automobile accident. While the preclusive effect of a pre-arbitration judicial decision may be sufficient to vacate an arbitral award (see Matter of Tokio Mar. & Fire Ins. Co. v Allstate Ins. Co., 8 AD3d 492 [2004]), a post-arbitration judicial determination concerning the insurer’s liability is not one of the limited grounds for vacating an arbitration award (see Matter of Hirsch Constr. Corp. [Cooper], 181 AD2d 52 [1992], lv denied 81 NY2d 701 [1992]). Indeed, if a motion to vacate an arbitration award on this ground could be entertained, “the arbitration award would be the beginning rather than the end of the controversy and the protracted litigation which arbitration is meant to avoid would be invited” (Matter of Mole [Queen Ins. Co. of Am.], 14 AD2d 1, 3 [1961]).”

“We have considered petitioner Hereford’s alternative grounds for vacating the award and find them unavailing. The master arbitrator’s affirmance of the lower arbitration award was not irrational (see Matter of Petrofsky [Allstate Ins. Co.], 54 NY2d 207, 211 [1981]), nor did it ignore controlling law (see Matter of Global Liberty Ins. Co. v ISurply, LLC, 163 AD3d 418 [2018]).”

I think the smarter approach would have been to consolidate the DJ action with the Article 75 action (COA #1 DJ; COA #2 Art 75) and to move by Notice of Petition. This assumes the the DJ had merit and was not one to force a default in an attempt to create unfounded res judicata.

You know DFS does NOT approve of this disclaimer

Hereford Ins. Co. v Forest Hills Med., P.C., 2019 NY Slip Op 03926 (1st Dept. 2019)

” Moreover, movant defendants failed to demonstrate a meritorious defense. The failure by the occupants of the vehicle to subscribe and return the transcripts of their examinations under oath violated a condition precedent to coverage and warranted denial of the claims (see Hertz Vehs., LLC v Gejo, LLC, 161 AD3d 549[1st Dept 2018]). “

I really find this basis to disclaim coverage disingenuous. The EIP came to the EUO, told his or her story, lied or did not lie. We go from there. I cannot fathom how the failure to return an EUO transcript – which is a sworn to document and which may be used against the deponent or the assignee as a matter of course – warrants the loss of no-fault benefits.

I am quite sure that DFS did not put the “and subscribe the same” (11 NYCRR 65-1.1[b]) language in the regulations to authorize the voiding of coverage due to the failure to sign the transcript. I also suspect this case will spur either an emergency amendment from DFS or an opinion letter. Thankfully, this appeared in the context of a motion to vacate a default, which means the Court of Appeals will not touch this matter, i.e., the failure to establish a reasonable excuse is reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard that will not be upset on appeal.

I think this basis for a disclaimer is the colloquial playing with fire.

Nationwide took an ax to Unitrin

Nationwide Affinity Ins. Co. of Am. v Jamaica Wellness Med., P.C., 2018 NY Slip Op 07850 (4th Dept. 2018)

(1) “We conclude that a defense premised upon nonappearance at an EUO is “more like a normal’ exception from coverage (e.g., a policy exclusion)” than one involving “a lack of coverage in the first instance (i.e., a defense implicat[ing] a coverage matter’)” (Fair Price Med. Supply Corp., 10 NY3d at 565; see also Hospital for Joint Diseases, 9 NY3d at 319-320; Presbyterian Hosp. in City of N.Y., 90 NY2d at 281-286; see generally Central Gen. Hosp., 90 NY2d at 199). Unlike defenses where preclusion thereof would result in coverage where it never existed, such as those premised upon the lack of a contract with the person claiming coverage or for the vehicle involved in the accident, the termination of the contract prior to the accident, or the cause of the purported injuries being something other than a vehicular accident (see Hospital for Joint Diseases, 9 NY3d at 319; Central Gen. Hosp., 90 NY2d at 200; Zappone v Home Ins. Co., 55 NY2d 131, 136-138 [1982]), the EUO nonappearance defense allows the insurer to avoid liability for the payment of no-fault benefits where the insured or assignee has breached a condition in an existing policy providing coverage”

(2) “We further agree with defendant that, contrary to the court’s determination and Nationwide’s contention, our holding in Interboro Ins. Co. v Tahir (129 AD3d 1687 [4th Dept 2015]) is not controlling. The no-coverage exception to the preclusion remedy was not at issue and the insurer disclaimed coverage in that case; thus, it is factually distinguishable and legally unpersuasive inasmuch as the broad language regarding vitiation of the contract for failure to comply with a condition precedent was not central to the holding and did not account for the conceptual differences between types of conditions precedent (see id. at 1688).”

What saddens ms it that Tahir was my case.  It is also remarkable that the Court did not examine NYP v. C-Wide.  I also am upset that nobody sought to really delve into the policy language itself, and to contrast it with the notion of a condition precedent in other contexts.

The issue is one step closer to Court of Appeals scrutiny.

https://ad4.nycourts.gov/go/live/channel.asp?id={F23F2521-D06B-4824-8ADD-F51A30AD02B8}

Oral Argument Start time: 27:20

Where was the reasonable excuse?

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.

 

Dilemma and dogma

Hertz Vehicles, LLC v Best Touch PT, P.C.,2018 NY Slip Op 04854 (1st Dept. 2018)

(1) “Plaintiff failed to meet its burden of filing “proof of the facts constituting the claim” for a default declaratory judgment (CPLR 3215[f]) against the medical provider defendants, i.e., proof establishing that the notices of examination under oath (EUO) that it served on those defendants complied with the timeliness requirements of 11 NYCRR 65-3.5(b) (see Kemper Independence Ins. Co. v Adelaida Physical Therapy, P.C., 147 AD3d 437 [1st Dept 2017]; Natl. Liab. & Fire Ins. Co. v Tam Med. Supply Corp., 131 AD3d 851 [1st Dept 2015]). An insurer must request any “additional verification . . . to establish proof of claim” within 15 business days after receiving the “prescribed verification forms” it forwarded to the parties required to complete them (11 NYCRR 65-3.5[a], [b]). As none of the motion papers, including the affidavit by plaintiff’s claims adjuster, annexes or gives the dates of the prescribed verification forms or other proofs of claim submitted by the medical provider defendants, it is not possible to determine whether the EUO notices were sent to them within 15 business days of plaintiff’s receipt of the form”

What was interesting is in the last appeal of a lost DJ, the Court appeared to walk around 65-3.5 and 65-3.6 when the issue involved a default.  The rationale could be found in the dissent of Longevity and sub silentio set forth in the majority opinion in the same.  This case now applies the summary judgment standard to defaults.

(2) “Plaintiff’s argument on appeal that the providers’ bills are “prescribed verification forms” and its attempt to relate the deadlines applicable to one defendant’s EUO requests to another defendant’s submission of claims documentation or appearance for an EUO are unpreserved and, in any event, unsupported.”

Certain defense attorneys have tried to use the bootstrap method to establish timeliness.  I never bought it.

(3)  “The court erred in denying plaintiff’s motion for a default judgment against Bellevue on the ground that the motion did not contain any letter reflecting that Bellevue’s EUO transcript was sent to her for signature. The motion does contain such a letter, dated March 14, 2016, as well as a follow-up letter, dated April 20, 2016, and accompanying affidavits of service. As the [*2]failure to submit to an EUO and “subscribe the same” violates a condition precedent to coverage (see 11 NYCRR 65-2.4[c][2]), plaintiff provided adequate proof of its claims against Bellevue (see DTG Operations, Inc. v Park Radiology, P.C., 2011 NY Slip Op. 32467[U], *5-6 [Sup Ct, NY County 2011]”

This should worry anyone because I highly doubt that DFS (absent a Thrasher showing) ever advocated for a voiding of the policy due to the failure to sign a transcript.  I see a circular letter coming on this issue, similar to when DFS issued a circular letter to overturn Soundshore.

 

Mailing to the attorney

Global Liberty Ins. Co. v New Century Acupuncture, P.C., 2018 NY Slip Op 03444 (1st Dept. 2018)

“Plaintiff sent an initial IME scheduling letter, and a re-scheduling letter, to both Davis and her attorney. After Davis failed to appear for the re-scheduled IME, plaintiff sent a third letter to the attorney, which indicated on its face that a copy had been sent to Davis. However, it is undisputed that the letter to Davis was sent to the wrong address. Thus, there was no reason for the attorney to know that Davis had not received notice of the re-scheduled IME and to tell her of the new IME date and location. Under these circumstances, the motion court properly found that plaintiff failed to demonstrate that it provided adequate notice, reasonably calculated to apprise Davis that her appearance at an IME at a specified date and location was required”

 

 

 

For the All on NY fans: you were wrong.

Hereford Ins. Co. v Lida’s Med. Supply, Inc., 2018 NY Slip Op 03226 (1st Dept. 2018)

(1) “While plaintiff’s notice of motion did not specify that it was solely moving for summary judgment on its first cause of action, its attorney’s affirmation shows that they were limiting the relief sought to this claim.” (if this is a volume business a pro-forma motion, then why not have a software system that indicates this)

(2) “When an individual submits a personal injury claim for motor vehicle no-fault benefits, the insurance company may request that the individual submit to an IME, and if the individual fails to appear for that IME, it “constitutes a breach of a condition precedent vitiating coverage””

(3) “Here, plaintiff established its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by submitting the letters sent to each claimant notifying them about the date, time, and location of the initially scheduled IME and a second scheduled IME and affidavits of service for these letters. Plaintiff also submitted affidavits from each medical professional assigned to conduct the scheduled IME, with each stating that the medical professional was in his or her office at the date and time of the scheduled IME, the respective claimant failed to appear, the appointment was kept open until the end of the day, and at the end of the day, the medical professional filled out the affidavit acknowledging the nonappearance.”

(4)”Because Hereford sent the notices scheduling the IMEs prior to the receipt of each of the claims, the notification requirements for verification requests under 11 NYCRR 65-3.5 and 65-3.6 do not apply (see Mapfre at 469). Furthermore, plaintiff was not required “to demonstrate [*2]that the claims were timely disclaimed since the failure to attend medical exams was an absolute coverage defense” (American Tr. Ins. Co. v Lucas, 111 AD3d 423, 424-25 [1st Dept 2013]]).”

Two things to take from this.

First, the All of NY case was limited to a provider EUO no show DJ predicated upon a record missing demonstrative evidence.  In contrast,  this was the boilerplate IME no-show DJ.  The result makes sense and is consistent with prior precedent.

Second, I think the proof of the no-show here is a lot less than the line of cases that the Appellate Term, First Department created.  But this would make sense when you look at how these panel judges when all of them sat in no-fault land (Civil and Supreme Court DJ parts).

 

DJ not collateral estoppel

Active Care Med. Supply Corp. v Amica Mut. Ins. Co., 2018 NY Slip Op 50500(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2018)

The man who wrote the book glossed over the discussion of Magic Recovery in seeking to backdoor summary judgment win.  Sneaky.

“However, plaintiff herein was neither named nor served in the Supreme Court declaratory judgment action. Moreover, plaintiff was not in privity with the injured party, as the assignment of benefits had been executed before defendant commenced the declaratory judgment action. Thus, plaintiff had no full and fair opportunity to defend its interests in that action”

Failure to include order/judgment with declaration is fatal

Active Chiropractic, P.C. v 21st Century Ins. Co., 2018 NY Slip Op 50200(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2018)

Many times the Court will write motion granted settled order, or include certain facts without “adjudging” or “declaring” the rights of the parts.

This case signifies the importance to obtain a signed and entered judgment setting forth the declarations to which you believe you are entitled when the occasion arises.  The defaulting defendant’s remedy is to open the DJ.

See below.

“With respect to defendant’s cross motion, as the December 8, 2014 Supreme Court order in the declaratory judgment action merely granted the branch of defendant’s motion for the entry of a default judgment against plaintiff and its assignor, but failed to make a statement declaring the rights of the parties involved (see Hirsch v Lindor Realty Corp., 63 NY2d 878, 881 [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 and, thus, can have no preclusive effect in the action at bar”

The prologue here is that a judgment was eventually signed.

Avoiding the 120-day rule to make a summary judgment motion

Active Chiropractic, P.C. v Allstate Ins., 2018 NY Slip Op 50201(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2018)

“Initially, we note that, although defendant’s motion was denominated as one to dismiss the complaint pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) (5), the motion was made after issue had been joined (see generally CPLR 3211 [e]). “Whether or not issue has been joined, the court, after adequate notice to the parties, may treat the motion as a motion for summary judgment” (CPLR 3211 [c]). While the Civil Court never notified the parties that it was treating the motion as one for summary judgment, an exception to the notice requirement is applicable, as defendant’s motion exclusively involved “a purely legal question rather than any issues of fact” (Mihlovan v Grozavu, 72 NY2d 506, 508 [1988]; Four Seasons Hotels v Vinnik, 127 AD2d 310, 320 [1987]; Renelique v State-Wide Ins. Co., 50 Misc 3d 137[A], 2016 NY Slip Op 50095[U] [App Term, 2d Dept, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2016]). Consequently, it was proper for the Civil Court, in effect, to treat defendant’s motion to dismiss as one for summary judgment “without first giving notice of its intention to do so” (Four Seasons Hotels, 127 AD2d at 320).”

Upon finding the motion properly brought and timely, judgment on the unpleaded affirmative defense was granted.