October 24, 2005

Function Supply v Progressive Ins. Co. (2005 NY Slip Op 51755(U))


The court considered the plaintiff's action to recover first-party no-fault benefits for medical services rendered to its assignor, as well as the defendant's motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the claims were not overdue and the action was premature. The main issues decided were whether the defendant failed to pay or deny the claims within the statutory 30-day period as required by Insurance Law section 5106(a), and whether the defendant's verification requests were timely sent to the plaintiff. The court held that the defendant's motion for summary judgment was denied, and that the plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment was granted, awarding judgment in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $759.00, together with statutory interest and attorney's fees.

Reported in New York Official Reports at Function Supply v Progressive Ins. Co. (2005 NY Slip Op 51755(U))

Function Supply v Progressive Ins. Co. (2005 NY Slip Op 51755(U)) [*1]
Function Supply v Progressive Ins. Co.
2005 NY Slip Op 51755(U) [9 Misc 3d 1123(A)]
Decided on October 24, 2005
Civil Court Of The City Of New York, Queens County
Lane, J.
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.
Decided on October 24, 2005

Civil Court of the City of New York, Queens County

Function Supply, aao Katina Johnson,


Progressive Ins. Co., Defendant(s)/, Respondent(s)


Howard G. Lane, J.

Plaintiff commenced this action to recover first-party no-fault benefits for medical services rendered to its assignor Katina Johnson pursuant to New York’s No-Fault Insurance Law § 5101 et. seq., as well as statutory interest and attorney’s fees. Thereafter, defendant moved for summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff’s claims for No-Fault benefits is not overdue and that this action is premature. Plaintiff cross-moved for summary judgment on its claims in the amount of $759.00, on the ground that defendant failed to pay or to deny its claims within the statutory 30-day period as required by Insurance Law section 5106 [a].


The rule governing summary judgment requires the proponent of a summary judgment motion to make a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, tendering admissible evidence to eliminate any material issues of fact from the case (Winegrad v. New York University Medical Center, 64 NY2d 851 [1985]; Alvarez v. Prospect Hospital, 68 NY2d 320 [1986]; Tortorello v. Carlin, 260 AD2d 201 [1st Dept 1999]). Failure to make such showing requires denial of the motion, regardless of the sufficiency of the opposing papers (Matter of Redemption Church of Christ v. Williams, 84 AD2d 648; Greenberg v. Manlon Realty, 43 AD2d 968).

If the moving party satisfies those standards, the burden shifts to the opponent to rebut that prima facie showing by presenting evidence in admissible form establishing the existence of triable issues of fact (see, CPLR §3212, subd [b]; Zuckerman v. City of New York, 49 NY2d 557 [1980]; Davenport v. County of Nassau, 279 AD2d 497 [2d Dept 2001]; Pagano v. Kingsbury, 182 AD2d 268 [2d Dept 1992]; Kaufman v. Silver, 90 NY2d 204 [1997]). It is well settled that summary judgment should be denied if there is any doubt as to the existence of a triable issue of fact (Freese v. Schwartz, 203 AD2d 513 [2d Dept 1994]).

When deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must review the [*2]evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and must give that party all of the reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the evidence (Louniakov v. M.R.O.D. Realty Corp., 282 AD2d 657 [2d Dept 2001]; SSBSS Realty Corp. v. Public Service Mut. Ins. Co., 253 AD2d 583[1st Dept 1998]).


Pursuant to both the Insurance Law and the regulations promulgated by the Superintendent of Insurance, within thirty [30] days after a claimant submits proof of the facts and the amount of loss sustained, an insurer is required to either pay or deny a claim for insurance coverage of medical expenses arising from a motor vehicle accident (see, 11 NYCRR §65.15 [g] [3]; Central Gen. Hosp. v. Chubb Group of Ins. Co., 90 NY2d 195 [1997]; Mount Sinai Hosp., v. Triboro Coach, 263 AD2d 11 [2d Dept 1999]; New York Hosp. Med. Center of Queens v. Country-Wide Ins. Co., 295 AD2d 583 [2d Dept 2002]).

The only exception to the 30 day rule is where an insurer’s untimely denial is based upon the defense of lack of coverage, or where a medical condition for which the patient was treated, was not “related to the accident”. Chubb, supra. To withstand a motion based on this defense, the insurer has the burden to come forward with proof in admissible form to establish “the fact” or the evidentiary foundation for its belief that the patient’s treatment was unrelated to the accident (Metro Med. Diagnostics, P.C., v. Eagle Ins. Co., 293 AD2d 751 [2d Dept 2002]).

Within 10 business days after receipt of the completed no-fault application (NF-2), the insurer must forward verification forms for healthcare or hospital treatment (NF-3, NF4 or NF-5) to the injured party or that party’s assignee. After receipt of the completed verification of healthcare or hospital treatment form, the insurer may seek “additional verification” or further proof of claim from the injured party or that party’s assignee within 15 business days thereof. 11 NYCRR §65-3.5(b). Hence, the 30 day period may be extended by a request for verification. See, New York Hosp. Med. Ctr. of Queens v. Country-Wide Ins. Co.,supra; Presbyterian Hosp. in the City of New York v. Maryland Cas. Co., 90 NY2d 279 [1997]).

If the requested verification has not been supplied to the insurer within 30 calendar days, after the original request, the insurer shall issue within 10 calendar days of the insured’s failure to respond a follow-up request “either by telephone call, properly documented in the file, or by mail.” See 11 NYCRR §65-3.6(b), now 15 days per 11 NYCRR §65-3.5 [b]; S&M Supply v. Allstate Insurance Co., 2003 NY Slip Op 51191 [U] [App Term, 2d & 11th Jud Dists]. “An insurer shall not issue a denial of claim form . . . prior to its receipt of verification of all of the relevant information requested . . . “(New York Hosp. Med. Ctr. Of Queens v. Country-Wide Ins. Co., supra at 585. Glassman D.C., PC v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 192 Misc 2d 264 [App Term, 2nd & 11 Jud [*3]Dists 2002]).

A legally valid basis for denying a first party benefit claim would be the provider’s assignor failing to comply with an insurer’s requests for verification. See generally, Lopedote v. General Assurance Company, 2004 NY Slip Op 50593[U] [Kings Co. Civil Ct. 2004]. However, any party required to provide verification information must be afforded adequate and proper notice of the request. See generally, Star Medical Services, P.C. v. Allstate Ins. Co., 5 Misc 3d 785 [Kings Co. Civil Ct. 2004].

Failure to pay or deny a claim within the 30-day period requirement, absent a request for additional verification, renders benefits “overdue,” and precludes the insurer from disclaiming liability based on a breach of a policy condition or a statutory exclusion defense (Presbyterian Hosp. in City of New York v. Maryland Cas. Co., 90 NY2d 274 [1997]). All overdue payments bear interest at a rate of 2% per month, and the claimant is entitled to recover attorney’s fees where a “valid claim or portion” was denied or overdue [see, Insurance Law §5106 [a]; Presbyterian Hosp. in the City of New York, supra.

Plaintiff maintains that it is entitled to summary judgment because the defendant failed to pay or deny its claims within 30 days of receipt as required by the Insurance Law §5106 (a). Plaintiff asserts that it submitted to defendant proofs of claims for medical supplies which defendant admits to receiving, that defendant did not request additional verification and that the claim is overdue and owing.

Plaintiff proved that it submitted a timely and proper notice of claim pursuant to the No-Fault statute for medical supplies provided, which defendant acknowledged receiving, and not paying. See, Capio Medical, P.C. ex rel. Berger v. Progressive Cas. Ins. Co., 7 Misc 3d 129(A), 2005 NY Slip Op 50526(U) (App Term, 2nd and 11 th Jud Dists); Park Health Center v. Prudential Prop. and Cas. Ins. Co., 2001 WL 1803364 (App Term 2nd and 11th Jud Dist 2001). The burden then shifted to defendant to show the existence of a triable issue of fact. See, Alvarez v. Prospect Hosp., supra. Defendant asserts that it received the bills at issue on August 20, 2002, “printed” and then mailed a request for additional verification on August 30, 2002, and after receiving no response from plaintiff, followed up with a second written request on September 30, 2002. Plaintiff did not admit to receiving the request for verification. Defendant asserts that the requests for verification were timely sent to plaintiff and establish defendant’s right to a tolling of the 30-day period by its verification requests.

In support of its motion defendant submits copies of the alleged verification request addressed to plaintiff, and proof of mailing of its request for verification (S & M Supply, Inc. v. GEICO, 2003 NY Slip Op 51192[U] [App Term, 2d & 11th Jud Dists 2003]). Specifically, defendant proffers the affidavit of Linda Phillips, a litigation representative employed by defendant who avers in her affidavit in support of defendant’s motion for summary judgment that “[w]ith respect to the mailing of the . . . [*4]verification requests, my office mailed same in accordance with its normal practice and procedure, followed in the regular course of my office’s business. . .” She further avers that “[s]uch request includes the specific claim information and bears the date that it is printed. It is then placed in a bin for the daily 1:15 p.m. collection by my office’s internal mail room personnel. The same day, a mail room employee prepares a post paid envelope bearing the same address of the entity that submitted the claim and seals the verification request in the envelope. Also the same day, a carrier from United States Post Office collects, with the mail, the envelope containing the verification request form at 3:30 P.M.” Additionally, she avers that “any verification request form that is placed in the bin for mail room collection after 1:15 p.m. is collected during the next business day’s internal mail collection.”

The court finds the assertions of defendant’s litigation examiner conclusory and such assertions fail to specify either that it was the duty of the litigation examiner to ensure compliance with said office procedures or that the litigation examiner had actual knowledge that said procedures were complied with. (See, Contemp. Med. Diag. & Treatment, P.C. v. GEICO, 6 Misc 3d 137(A), 2005 NY Slip Op 50254[U] [App Term, 2d & 11th Jud Dists 2005]). See also, Amaze Medical Supply v. State Farm Automobile Ins. Co., 8 Misc 3d 139(A), 2005 NY Slip Op 51315(U) [2d and 11th Jud Dists 2005]). As defendant’s papers in support of the motion for summary judgment do not contain an affidavit of someone with personal knowledge that its verification requests were actually mailed, or describing the standard office practices or procedures it used to ensure that such requests were properly addressed and mailed (see, Residential Holding Corp. v. Scottsdale Ins. Co., 286 AD2d 679 [2d Dept 2001]), defendant failed to establish by competent evidence that it timely mailed its verification requests, and therefore, the 30-day period within which it was required to pay or deny the claim was not tolled (see, S&M Supply Inc. Co. V. Lancer Ins. Co., 4 Misc 3d 131[A], 2004 NY Slip Op 50695[U] [App Term, 2d & 11th Jud Dists 2004]).

Accordingly, defendant’s motion for summary judgment is denied. Plaintiff’s cross-motion for summary judgment is granted and judgment shall be awarded in favor of plaintiff in the amount of $759.00, together with statutory interest and attorneys fees.

The foregoing constitutes the decision and order of this Court.

Dated, October 24, 2005________________________________

Howard G. Lane

Judge, Civil Court