August 11, 2020

Doctors United Inc. v Hereford Ins. Co. (2020 NY Slip Op 50909(U))


The court considered the fact that plaintiff, Doctors United Inc., filed a lawsuit seeking overdue no-fault benefits from defendant, Hereford Insurance Company, for medical services rendered to Keith Davis. Defendant moved for summary judgment, claiming that plaintiff never billed defendant for the services. Plaintiff argued that the motion was untimely and that defendant had not paid or denied the bills. The court dismissed defendant's motion as untimely and declined to grant plaintiff summary judgment due to lack of evidence of billing and mailing of the bills. The main issues decided were whether the defendant's motion for summary judgment was untimely and whether there was sufficient evidence of billing and mailing of the bills. The holding was that defendant's motion for summary judgment was dismissed as untimely and plaintiff's request for summary judgment was also denied.

Reported in New York Official Reports at Doctors United Inc. v Hereford Ins. Co. (2020 NY Slip Op 50909(U))

Doctors United Inc., as assignee of KEITH DAVIS, Plaintiff,


Hereford Insurance Company, Defendant.


Eppinger, Reingold & Korder (Ronald M. Eppinger of counsel), for plaintiff

Law Offices of Rubin & Nazarian (Tasnim Hassanali of counsel), for defendant

Emily Morales-Minerva, J.

In this action to recover assigned first-party benefits for medical services rendered (see Insurance Law § 5101, et seq.), defendant Hereford Insurance Company (defendant) moves, pursuant to CPLR 3212, for an order of summary judgment dismissing the complaint of plaintiff Doctors United Inc., as assignee of Keith Davis (plaintiff). In opposition, plaintiff argues that the court should dismiss defendant’s motion as untimely and that the court should grant plaintiff summary judgment for defendant’s failure to either pay or deny the subject claims.

The court now dismisses defendant’s motion as untimely without good cause shown and declines to grant plaintiff’s request for the same relief, as also belatedly asserted without satisfactory excuse.


Plaintiff filed a summons and complaint against defendant, seeking overdue no-fault benefits plus interest thereon and attorneys’ fees. Annexed to the summons and complaint is an incomplete copy of a spreadsheet, entitled “Details of Disputed Claim” (summons and complaint). Said document includes, among other things, a column identified as “Date Bill Mailed” with numerous rows of noted dates (id.). The “Details of Disputed Claim” does not indicate what services, if any, were billed to defendant and does not chronicle where defendant allegedly “mailed” the bills (id.).

Defendant filed an answer, demand for verified written interrogatories and various demands. In response, plaintiff alleges that it provided defendant with discovery, including “a complete set of all of the bills at issue in this action” (affirmation in opposition, ¶ 6). However, no proof of mailing for those bills and no copies of the bills exist in the record.

Plaintiff filed a notice of trial, dated July 3, 2018.[FN1] On November 16, 2018, defendant served plaintiff, by mail, with this motion for an order of summary judgment, dismissing the complaint on the ground that plaintiff never billed defendant (affidavit of service, dated Nov. 16, 2018). Plaintiff opposes the motion arguing that the motion should be dismissed as untimely, pursuant to CPLR 3212 (a).[FN2] Plaintiff also seeks an order of summary judgment, contending that defendant neither paid nor denied any of the subject bills (see CPLR 3212 [b] [governing the grounds and supporting proof for a summary judgment motion]).


A motion for summary judgment “shall be made no later than one hundred twenty days after the filing of the note of issue, except with leave of court on good cause shown” (CPLR 3212 [a]; see also Uniform Rules for New York State Trial Courts [22 NYCRR] § 208.7 [b] [providing that “(a)ll formal pleadings in this court and verifications thereof shall be in conformity with CPLR article 30”]). The Court of Appeals defined “good cause” as requiring “a satisfactory explanation for the untimeliness” of the motion, and the Court interpreted Rule 3212 as otherwise prohibiting tardy, but “meritorious, nonprejudicial filings” (Brill v City of New York, 2 NY3d 648, 652 [2004, Kaye, Ch. J.] [construing rule 3212 (a) in the context of a Civil Court proceeding]; see also Miceli v State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 3 NY3d 725, 726 [2006 mem] [citing Brill for the proposition that “statutory time frames . . . are not options, they are requirements”]; Rivera v State of New York, 34 NY3d 383, 402, n 12 [2019, Rivera, J., dissenting] [providing, in dicta, “that trial courts may only permit late summary judgment where the movant gives ‘a satisfactory explanation for the untimeliness'”]).

In refusing to countenance violations of the statutory deadline — absent good cause [*2]shown — the Court of Appeals emphasized with hope that “movants will develop a habit of compliance with [CPLR 3212 (a)] . . . rather than delay [motions for summary judgment] until trial looms” (id., at 653). The Court was firm that “not considering the merits of an unexcused, untimely motion” is both (1) “the correct remedy under the law” and (2) the result best calculated to “bring an undesirable practice to an end” (id., n 4).

Applying these principles here, defendant’s motion for summary judgment must be dismissed. Defendant concedes that it served this motion on plaintiff after the conclusion of the 120-day time period set forth in CPLR 3212 (a) (see CPLR 2103 [b] [2] [providing that, where the law prescribes a time period for service, the time “is measured from the service of a paper”]; see also CPLR 2211 [providing that “[a] motion on notice is made when a notice of the motion . . . is served”]; Esdaille v Whitehall Realty Co., 61 AD3d 435, 435-436 [1st Dept 2009] [applying the same]).[FN3] Moreover, defendant merely contends that the belatedly filed motion does not prejudice plaintiff, appearing to overlook the need to establish a proper excuse for its tardiness. “No excuse at all . . . cannot be ‘good cause'” (Brill, 2 NY3d at 652).

Similarly, plaintiff’s request for summary judgement fails as asserted late without any proffered excuse. Plaintiff seeks summary judgment for the first time in opposition to defendant’s motion, and plaintiff served its affirmation in opposition well beyond 120 days after service of the notice of trial (affidavit of service, dated March 6, 2019).

Accordingly, it is

ORDERED that defendant’s motion for an order of summary judgment, dismissing plaintiff’s cause of action, is dismissed as untimely.

The constitutes the decision and order of the court.

DATE: August 11, 2020
Emily Morales-Minerva, J.


Footnote 1:Neither party indicates when plaintiff served the notice of trial on defendant, although there is no dispute that plaintiff served the notice of trial over 120 days prior to defendant serving this motion for summary judgment.

Footnote 2: Rule 3212 (a) of the CPLR provides, among other things, that a motion for summary judgment “shall be made no later than one hundred twenty days after the filing of the note of issue, except with leave of court on good cause shown.”

Footnote 3: Defendant states: “The motion was drafted, signed and dated November 13, 2018 — which is within 120 days of the notice of trial. While the motion was not served until a few days later, Plaintiff is not prejudiced by the late motion” (affirmation in reply, ¶ 4).