August 16, 2022

Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v Brutus (2022 NY Slip Op 50799(U))


The case involved a no-fault insurance coverage action where Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and American States Insurance Company (Liberty Mutual) moved for default judgment against defendant Edwine Brutus and several medical-provider assignees. The court granted Liberty Mutual's motion for default-judgment and also granted in part and denied in part a cross-motion by defendant NYC Axis Chiropractic PC for summary judgment. Liberty Mutual provided evidence of their claim, including that Brutus failed to fully respond to post-examination under oath document requests, and that he lived at a different address from the one he had used on his insurance application. The court found that these facts established a prima facie case that Brutus committed a material misrepresentation on his insurance application. The court also denied the branch of NYC Axis's cross-motion seeking sanctions.

Reported in New York Official Reports at Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v Brutus (2022 NY Slip Op 50799(U))

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and American States Insurance Company, Plaintiffs,



Index No. 654090/2020

Correia, Conway & Stiefeld, White Plains, NY (Richard Ahrens of counsel), for plaintiff.

Law Office of Gregory A. Goodman, P.C., Jericho, NY (Gregory Goodman of counsel), for defendant NYC Axis Chiropractic PC.

Gerald Lebovits, J.

In this no-fault insurance coverage action, plaintiffs Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and American States Insurance Company (together, Liberty Mutual) move for default judgment against the eligible injured person, defendant Edwine Brutus; and against non-appearing defendants I Am Supplies Inc., MZY Acupuncture PC, Nexray Medical Imaging PC, Sedation Vacation Perioperative Medicine PLLC and Way to Rehab PT PC, all medical-provider assignees of Brutus.

Appearing defendant NYC Axis Chiropractic PC cross-moves for summary judgment against Liberty Mutual. NYC Axis also cross-moves for sanctions, on the ground that Liberty Mutual erroneously named it in the initial default judgment motion and then failed to withdraw the motion quickly enough as against NYC Axis.

Liberty Mutual’s unopposed motion for default judgment is granted. The branch of NYC Axis’s cross-motion seeking sanctions is denied. The branch of NYC Axis’s cross-motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.


I. Liberty Mutual’s Default-Judgment Motion

To obtain default judgment under CPLR 3215, a movant must establish proper service on the subjects of the motion, defaults by those parties, and the facts constituting movant’s claim. Here, Liberty Mutual has established proper service and defaults. Additionally, Liberty Mutual has established, through affidavits and supporting documentation, the facts constituting its claim.

In particular, Liberty Mutual has shown that it timely asked Brutus to appear for an examination under oath (EUO) about whether he had been truthful and accurate on his application for insurance (see NYSCEF No. 24 [EUO scheduling letters]). Liberty Mutual has also demonstrated that Brutus appeared for his EUO but failed to respond fully to timely served post-EUO document requests. (See NYSCEF No. 27 [EUO transcript]; NYSCEF No. 28 [post-[*2]EUO document requests].) Liberty Mutual has provided an affidavit from one of its investigators representing that her investigation, coupled with Brutus’s EUO testimony, indicated he lived at a different address from the one he had used on his application. (NYSCEF No. 23.) And Liberty Mutual has provided an affidavit from one of its underwriters representing that had Brutus provided his true home address on the insurance application, the premium would have been almost double what he was charged. (NYSCEF No. 29.)

These facts, taken together, suffice to establish a prima facie case that Brutus committed a material misrepresentation in applying for insurance from Liberty Mutual. (See Starr Indem. & Liab. Co. v Monte Carlo, LLC, 190 AD3d 441, 441-442 [1st Dept 2021] [“A misrepresentation in an insurance application is material . . . if, had the true facts been known, either the insurer would not have issued the policy or would have charged a higher premium.”]; cf. Dyno v Rose, 260 AD2d 694, 698 [3d Dept 1999] [noting that the “affidavit of facts” supporting a default-judgment motion for default judgment must “establish a prima facie case” for relief].) This material misrepresentation, in turn, is a proper basis to deny claims for benefits brought by Brutus or his assignees. (See Matter of Insurance Co. of N. Am. v Kaplun, 274 AD2d 293, 298-299 [2d Dept 2000].)

Liberty Mutual’s motion for default judgment is granted.

II. NYC Axis’s Cross-Motion

A. The Branch of the Cross-Motion Seeking Sanctions

Liberty Mutual’s default-judgment motion initially sought judgment against NYC Axis, in addition to the other defendants named in the motion. (See NYSCEF No. 14 at 2 [notice of motion].) The attorney affirmation submitted in support of the motion stated that NYC Axis was in default because it did not timely answer. (See NYSCEF No. 15 at 4 ¶ 18.) But although NYC Axis’s answer was untimely, Liberty Mutual did not reject that answer when it was filed, thereby waiving Liberty Mutual’s right to act on the default. (See U.S. Bank N.A. v Lopez, 192 AD3d 849, 850 [2d Dept 2021].)

Liberty Mutual filed its motion on Friday, December 3, 2021. (NYSCEF No. 14.) The motion was returnable on January 4, 2022; it required under CPLR 2214 (b) that opposition papers be filed by December 28, 2021. (Id. at 1-2.) On Saturday, December 4, NYC Axis filed a letter to demand that Liberty Mutual withdraw its motion as against NYC Axis within five days or face a sanctions motion. (NYSCEF No. 37.) On Thursday, December 9, NYC Axis filed this cross-motion for summary judgment under CPLR 3212 and for sanctions under 22 NYCRR 130-1.1. (NYSCEF No. 39 [notice of cross-motion].) On December 16—less than two weeks after the motion was filed—Liberty Mutual withdrew the motion as against NYC Axis, conceding that seeking judgment against NYC Axis was an error. (NYSCEF No. 48.)

NYC Axis argues at length on reply that it should be awarded sanctions against Liberty [*3]Mutual anyway. (See NYSCEF No. 53 at 3-8.) This argument is groundless. Liberty Mutual did not, as NYC Axis asserts, act with “obstinacy” in “refus[ing] to withdraw its motion” (id. at ¶¶ 19, 25)—it merely did not withdraw the motion as rapidly as NYC Axis would have preferred. Additionally, given the timing, NYC Axis was not, as it suggests, “compelled . . . to seek judicial intervention to protect [its] client’s rights” against Liberty Mutual’s motion (id. at ¶ 14). Instead, NYC Axis chose to resort to motion practice only four business days after Liberty Mutual filed its default-judgment motion, and nearly three weeks before NYC Axis’s opposition papers would have been due. No basis for § 130-1.1 sanctions against Liberty Mutual exists on these facts.

B. The Branch of the Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment

NYC Axis also cross-moves for summary judgment on the merits, contending that it is entitled to payment on 10 bills for treatment (plus attorney fees) because Liberty Mutual did not timely deny them, and because the assertedly untimely denials were improper in any event.

The cross-motion is granted in part and denied in part. This court concludes that Liberty Mutual was required to pay or deny these 10 bills within 30 days of receiving the necessary verification. (See subsection II.B.1, infra.) Eight of the 10 bills were undisputedly denied. With respect to those eight bills, NYC Axis has not shown as a matter of law that the bills were untimely denied, or that the denials were substantively improper (See paragraph II.B.2.a, infra). With respect to the remaining two bills, NYC Axis has shown that Liberty Mutual failed to timely deny one of them, for $26.41. (See paragraph II.B.2.b, infra.) NYC Axis is thus entitled to summary judgment only on that one bill. It is not entitled to attorney fees as the prevailing party.

1. Whether Liberty Mutual’s denial of NYC Axis’s treatment bills was subject to the timeliness requirements of 11 NYCRR 65-3.8

NYC Axis argues that it is entitled as a matter of law to payment on the treatment bills it submitted to Liberty Mutual because those bills were not denied (or paid) within 30 days after Liberty Mutual received proof of NYC Axis’s claim, as required by 11 NYCRR 65-3.8 (a) and (c). The first issue this court must address, therefore, is whether the timeliness requirements of § 65-3.8 governed Liberty Mutual’s denial of these bills to begin with.

A no-fault insurer “that fails to deny a claim within the 30—day period is generally precluded from asserting a defense against payment of the claim.” (Fair Price Med. Supply Corp. v Travelers Indem. Co., 10 NY3d 556, 563 [2008] [internal quotation marks omitted].) A narrow but important exception to this preclusion rule exists where the ground for denying the claim (or the defense to a later claim for payment) is a lack of coverage: If “the insurance policy does not contemplate coverage in the first instance . . . requiring payment of a claim upon failure [*4]to timely disclaim” would improperly “create coverage where it never existed.”[FN1] (Id. [internal quotation marks omitted].)

The ground for Liberty Mutual’s denial of NYC Axis’s claims is that Brutus, NYC Axis’s assignor, made material misrepresentations in his application for no-fault insurance. Such material misrepresentations ordinarily will “void[] the policy ab initio,” thereby retroactively eliminating coverage altogether. (Starr Indem., 190 AD3d at 442.) A different rule applies, however, in the specific context of automotive insurance, including no-fault.

In that context, Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) § 313 is understood to “supplant an insurance carrier’s common-law right to cancel a contract of insurance retroactively on the grounds of fraud or misrepresentation,” mandating instead “that the cancellation of a contract pursuant to its provisions may only be effected prospectively.” (Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v McClellan, 127 AD2d 767, 769 [2d Dept 1987].) This rule derives from the principle that “compulsory automobile liability insurance is not the concern solely of the insured and . . . insurer,” but “exists also for the protection of the public.” (Id. at 769-770.) Preventing an auto insurer from retroactively canceling a policy “protects innocent third parties who may be injured due to the insured’s negligence” and might otherwise struggle to obtain compensation for their injuries—contrary to the core purpose of compulsory auto insurance. (Kaplun, 274 AD2d at 298.)

Courts applying this rule against rescission have stressed that the rule does not leave an auto insurer “without means of redress” should it conclude that a policy was fraudulently obtained. (Id.) An insurer may argue that “the insured’s misrepresentations and/or fraud in obtaining the policy precludes any recovery by the insured.” (Id. at 298-299.) For that matter, the insurer may raise the same argument with respect to a claim under the policy by an insured’s medical provider assignees, which stand in the insured’s shoes and “deal[] with the assignor-insured at [their] peril in accepting an assignment of the insured’s no-fault benefits.” (AB Med. Servs. PLLC v. Commercial Mut. Ins. Co., 12 Misc 3d 8, 11 [App Term, 2d Dept, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists]; accord Central Radiology Services v. Commerce Ins Co., 2011 NY Slip Op 50948[U], at *2 [App Term, 2d Dept, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists May 23, 2011] [holding that when the insurer established that the insured-assignor was ineligible for coverage for having misrepresented his state of residence in obtaining insurance, the provider-assignee, standing in the insured’s shoes, could not recover from the insurer either].)

That an insurer may raise the insured’s material misrepresentations as a ground for denying claims by the insured or the insured’s assignees presents the question whether the insurer may do so outside 30-day regulatory window for paying or denying the claims set by 11 NYCRR 65-3.8. This is permissible only if denying a claim on material-misrepresentation grounds—but without rescinding the policy outright—is, in substance, raising a lack-of-coverage defense to the claim, rendering untimely-denial preclusion inapplicable.

There are strong arguments that a material-misrepresentations denial should be treated as being based on a lack-of-coverage defense. In raising the insured’s material misrepresentations as a ground for denial, the insurer is contending that the insured (or its assignee) is claiming the benefit of coverage that the insured should not have at the price it paid. This is the same basic contention that underlies an insurer’s argument that it should be permitted to vitiate coverage by rescinding a policy as fraudulently obtained. True, particular policy considerations in the automotive-insurance context foreclose outright rescission. Those considerations, though, are particular to the interests of third parties (and the public at large); they do not affect the relationship between insurer and insured, nor the arguments against denying the insured the benefit of a fraudulently obtained policy.

Put differently, a material-misrepresentation defense is not based on a breach of a policy condition, does not challenge the validity of the claimed charges, and does not call into doubt the right of an assignee to bring the claim. Thus, without speaking in coverage-related terms, it is difficult to explain why the material-misrepresentation defense should defeat a claim for a non-excluded loss within the scope of the policy. (See Fair Price Med. Supply, 10 NY3d at 565 [explaining that the preclusion analysis “entails a judgment” whether “the defense [is] more like a ‘normal’ exception from coverage (e.g., a policy exclusion), or a lack of coverage in the first instance (i.e., a defense ‘implicating a coverage matter'”] [alteration omitted].[FN2] )

Nonetheless, the Appellate Division, Second Department, has held, without elaborating, that an insurer is precluded from denying a claim on the basis of a material misrepresentation if the denial does not comply with the time limits set by 11 NYCRR 65-3.8. (See Westchester Med. Ctr. v GMAC Ins. Co. Online, Inc., 80 AD3d 603, 604-605 [2d Dept 2011].) Liberty Mutual has provided no contrary precedents of the Appellate Division, First Department, and this court’s research has not uncovered any. This court is therefore bound by the Second Department’s decision in GMAC Insurance Company Online. (See D’Alessandro v Carro, 123 AD3d 1, 6 [1st Dept 2014].) The timeliness requirements of § 65-3.8 apply to Liberty Mutual’s denial here of [*5]NYC Axis’s bills.

2. Whether Liberty Mutual timely and properly denied payment for NYC Axis’s treatment bills

Because the pay-or-deny deadlines of 11 NYCRR 65-3.8 apply here, this court must go on to determine whether Liberty Mutual met that deadline with respect to the 10 treatment bills at issue on NYC Axis’s cross-motion for summary judgment.

It is undisputed that eight of the 10 bills were denied by Liberty Mutual. NYC Axis argues that those eight denials were untimely. Liberty Mutual contends that the denials were timely, taking into account the tolling effect of Liberty Mutual’s verification requests to Brutus. This court agrees with Liberty Mutual about these bills. NYC Axis also argues that Liberty Mutual has not provided sufficient support for its proffered material-misrepresentation ground for denying the first eight bills. This court finds NYC Axis’s argument unpersuasive.

As for the two remaining bills, NYC Axis contends that those bills were never denied at all. Liberty Mutual argues both that they were denied, and that the denials were timely. This court agrees with Liberty Mutual about one of the bills, and with NYC Axis about the other.

a. The eight treatment bills that Liberty Mutual undisputedly denied

Title 11 NYCRR 65-3.8 (a) (1) provides that “[n]o-fault benefits are overdue if not paid within 30 calendar days after the insurer receives proof of claim, which shall include verification of all of the relevant information requested pursuant to [11 NYCRR] 65-3.5.” Section 65-3.8 (c) provides that “[w]ithin 30 calendar days after proof of claim is received, the insurer shall either pay or deny the claim in whole or in part.” Timely verification requests may therefore toll the insurer’s deadline to pay or deny a treatment bill submitted by a medical-provider-assignee. (See Hospital for Joint Diseases v New York Cent. Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 44 AD3d 903, 903-904 [2d Dept 2007].) For purposes of that deadline, a denial is deemed to have been made when mailed by the insurer, not when received by the provider. (See Westchester Med. Ctr. v A Cent. Ins. Co., 114 AD3d 937, 937 [2d Dept 2014].)

Liberty Mutual first asked Brutus for garaging-related verification information in the beginning of August 2019, and its verification efforts continued through October 2019—thereby encompassing the period in which NYC Axis submitted the bills at issue. (See NYSCEF No. 24 at 1 [EUO scheduling letters]; NYSCEF No. 57 at 1 [verification correspondence from Brutus to Liberty Mutual]; NYSCEF No. 40 at 11 [NYC Axis affirmation in support of cross-motion, charting all the relevant dates for each bill at issue.)

As a result, the question is whether Liberty Mutual’s verification requests to Party A (injured-assignor Brutus) between August and October 2019 tolled the time for it to pay or deny the bills submitted by Party B (provider-assignee NYC Axis) during that period. NYC Axis [*6]argues that verification requests to A may not toll the time to pay or deny B’s claims (see NYSCEF No. 40 at ¶¶ 38, 47); Liberty Mutual argues that they may do so (see NYSCEF No. 49 at ¶¶ 35-37). This court has not been provided with, and has not itself found, Appellate Division precedent discussing this particular question. Considering the matter for itself, this court agrees with Liberty Mutual.

Liberty Mutual’s verification requests to Brutus were aimed at uncovering whether he had materially misrepresented facts in his insurance application—a ground for denying Brutus’s claims that would apply equally to claims submitted by NYC Axis as Brutus’s assignee.[FN3] (See Long Is. Radiology v Allstate Ins. Co., 36 AD3d 763, 765 [2d Dept 2007] [explaining that because an “assignee stands in the shoes of an assignor . . . and thus acquires no greater rights than its assignor,” a lack-of-medical-necessity defense to a claim that may be raised by the insurer against the assignor is also available against provider assignees] [internal quotation marks omitted]; accord American States Ins. Co. v Huff 119 AD3d 478, 479 [1st Dept 2014] [same, in context of EUO-nonappearance defense].) Because Liberty Mutual’s verification requests to Brutus also related to whether Liberty Mutual could (or could not) deny NYC Axis’s claims, the requests tolled Liberty Mutual’s deadline to respond to NYC Axis’s claims under § 65-3.8. The alternative rule, under which Liberty Mutual would have to pay NYC Axis’s claims even as Liberty Mutual was formally seeking information that might support denial of those claims, makes little sense.

NYC Axis also argues that Liberty Mutuals’ pay-or-deny deadline for NYC Axis’s bills was not tolled by letters Liberty Mutual sent to NYC Axis advising that its decisions on those bills would be delayed due to the need to verify the claims. (See NYSCEF No. 40 at ¶¶ 36-39.) True, but irrelevant. The letters advising of Liberty Mutual’s verification efforts may not have tolled the time to pay or deny—but the verification efforts themselves did under § 65-3.8.

Liberty Mutual sent four verification requests to Brutus. The initial EUO request, sent on August 2, 2019, was made before Liberty Mutual received any bills for treatment, making it proper under Mapfre Ins. Co. of NY v Manoo (140 AD3d 468, 469 [1st Dept 2016]). (See NYSCEF No. 24 [EUO requests]; NYSCEF Nos. 25-26 [provider bills].) The EUO was adjourned, and a later EUO scheduled, by letter sent on August 13. (NYSCEF No. 24 at 12.) The EUO was held on September 5 (see NYSCEF No. 27 at 4 [EUO transcript]); and Liberty Mutual sent Brutus a post-EUO document request four days later on September 9. (See NYSCEF No. 28 at 1.) After Brutus failed to respond, Liberty Mutual sent a follow-up request within 40 calendar days of the initial document request, as required by 11 NYCRR 65-3.6 (b).

Liberty Mutual’s counsel has represented, in correspondence with the court (copied to all [*7]parties), that Liberty Mutual received Brutus’s response to the follow-up document request (dated October 23, 2019) on November 1, 2019. (NYSCEF No. 57 [document response]; NYSCEF No. 58 [representation about timing of receipt].) Liberty Mutual’s motion papers indicate (albeit without saying expressly) that it did not then request further supplementation from Brutus of that document response. (See NYSCEF No. 15 at ¶ 29 [affirmation in support of default judgment].) As a result, under 11 NYCRR 65-3.8 (a) (1) and (c), Liberty Mutual had 30 calendar days from November 1 to pay or deny NYC Axis’s claims. The 30th day of that period fell on a Sunday, so Liberty Mutual’s deadline to mail the denials was December 2, 2019. (See General Construction Law § 25-a.)

Liberty Mutual has not provided denial-by-denial proof of when it mailed each denial to NYC Axis. But as NYC Axis itself acknowledges, the denial letters are dated either November 21, 2019, or November 22, 2019—at least 10 days prior to the denial deadline. (See NYSCEF No. 40 at 11.) Liberty Mutual has also submitted a detailed affidavit of one of its claims managers, representing that Liberty Mutual’s mailing procedures ensure that claim-denial letters are mailed out no later than the next business day after the date on the letter. (See NYSCEF No. 33 at ¶¶ 7, 11-13.) If the denial letters here were mailed consistent with this procedure—and NYC Axis has not provided reason to believe otherwise—the denials were timely. At a minimum, on this record NYC Axis has not shown as a matter of law that the denials were untimely.

In the alternative, NYC Axis asserts that Liberty Mutual has not adequately supported the material-misrepresentation justification on which these denials relied. (See NYSCEF No. 40 at 13-14.) This assertion misconstrues the governing legal standard. NYC Axis is correct that Liberty Mutual’s showing (affidavits from an underwriter and an investigator) would be insufficient to establish materiality as a matter of law on a motion by Liberty Mutual for summary judgment. But Liberty Mutual has not moved for summary judgment—NYC Axis has. Liberty Mutual’s evidence is sufficient at least to raise a dispute of fact about materiality. (See Carpinone v Mutual of Omaha Ins. Co., 265 AD2d 752, 754 [3d Dept 1999] [explaining that the “materiality of an applicant’s misrepresentation is ordinarily a factual question unless the insurer proffers clear and substantially uncontradicted evidence concerning materiality”].)

b. The two treatment bills with disputed denials

The remaining two bills pertain to treatment rendered on July 8, 2019, and August 13, 2019. (See id.) NYC Axis asserts that Liberty Mutual never denied two bills. (See id.) Liberty Mutual contends that it sent denials of the bills (see NYSCEF No. 49 at ¶ 31), providing a supplemental affidavit from its claims manager to that effect. (See NYSCEF No. 52 at ¶¶ 8-10.)

A denial of the bill for the July 8 treatment does appear in the record, explaining that the bill was denied because a peer review concluded that the services billed for were not medically necessary. (See NYSCEF No. 30 at 266-275.) But this court has not found a denial of the bill for treatment on August 13 (or, for that matter, a delay letter pertaining to that bill) in Liberty Mutual’s voluminous motion papers. Therefore, NYC Axis is entitled to summary judgment [*8]solely with respect to the August 13 bill—a $26.41 invoice for a follow-up outpatient visit (NYSCEF No. 26 at 15-17).

NYC Axis contends that it should also be entitled to attorney fees incurred in defending this action. This court disagrees. To be sure, an insured that prevails in a declaratory-judgment coverage action brought against it by the insurer may recover attorney fees. (See U.S. Underwriters Ins. co. v City Club Hotel, LLC, 3 NY3d 592, 597-598 [2004].) And it is immaterial that NYC Axis is an assignee of the insured: As assignee NYC Axis stands in the shoes of the assignor.[FN4] The court is not persuaded, though, that NYC Axis is, in fact, the prevailing party.

To be a prevailing party for attorney-fee purposes, one must “prevail on the central claims advanced, and receive substantial relief in consequence thereof.” (Sykes v RFD Third Ave. I Assoc., LLC, 39 AD3d 279, 279 [1st Dept 2007].) The dispute between Liberty Mutual and NYC Axis on this motion involves 10 bills. This court has concluded that NYC Axis is entitled to payment on only one of those 10—and for an amount, $26.41, that is a miniscule fraction of the total sum sought by NYC Axis. That is not substantial relief.

Accordingly, for the foregoing reasons it is

ORDERED that Liberty Mutual’s motion for default judgment against the nonappearing defendants named in the motion is granted, and Liberty Mutual is directed to settle order with respect to judgment against those defendants; and it is further

ORDERED that the branch of NYC Axis’s cross-motion seeking sanctions against Liberty Mutual is denied; and it is further

ORDERED that the branch of NYC Axis’s cross-motion seeking summary judgment on the question whether NYC Axis is entitled to payment on ten bills for treatment rendered to the alleged injured person, defendant Brutus, is granted only to the extent that this court declares that NYC Axis is entitled to payment from Liberty Mutual in the amount of $26.41 for treatment rendered to Brutus on August 13, 2019, and otherwise denied; and it is further

ORDERED that the branch of NYC Axis’s cross-motion seeking summary judgment on its claim for attorney fees arising from its defense of this action is denied.



Footnote 1:In the Appellate Division, First Department, this exception is most frequently invoked with respect to claim-denials based on the alleged injured person’s having failed twice to appear for examinations under oath (EUOs) or independent medical examinations (IMEs). (See e.g. Unitrin Advantage Ins. Co. v Bayshore Physical Therapy, PLLC, 82 AD3d 559, 560 [1st Dept 2011] [holding that an injured person’s “failure to appear for IMEs” properly requested “by the insurer . . . is a breach of a condition precedent to coverage under the no-fault policy, and therefore fits squarely within the [lack-of-coverage] exception to the preclusion doctrine”]; Allstate Ins. Co. v Pierre, 123 AD3d 618, 618 [1st Dept 2014] [same, with respect to EUOs].)

Footnote 2:Compare e.g. Bayshore Physical Therapy, 82 AD3d at 560 (holding that denial of a claim based on the injured person’s failure to appear for a properly requested IME is not subject to untimeliness preclusion because that failure breached a condition precedent to the injured person’s coverage under the policy), with Nationwide Affinity Ins. Co. of Am. v Jamaica Wellness Med., P.C., 167 AD3d 192, 196-197 (4th Dept 2018) (holding instead that denial of a claim for failure to appear at an IME is subject to untimeliness preclusion because that failure breached only a condition precedent to payment under the policy for a covered loss, not a condition precedent to the existence of coverage itself).

Footnote 3:This scenario thus differs from one in which the verification sought by an insurer from Provider-Assignee C (information going, for example, to the validity of C’s billing for treatments it provided to Injured-Assignor A) would not affect whether Provider-Assignee D was entitled to payment for different treatments that D provided to A. In that circumstance, the insurer’s verification requests to C would not toll the insurer’s time to pay or deny D’s bills.

Footnote 4:Because Brutus, the injured assignor in this case, is the insured under the underlying no-fault policy, this case is not controlled by Fiduciary Ins. Co. of Am. v Medical Diagnostic Servs., P.C. (150 AD3d 498, 498-499 [1st Dept 2017]) and Hertz Vehs., LLC v Cepeda (156 AD3d 440, 441 [1st Dept 2017]). In those cases, the injured assignors were merely passengers in an insured vehicle, rather than being the insureds themselves. As a result, the insurers there did not owe the injured assignors (or their medical-provider assignees) a duty to defend—or a corollary duty under City Club Hotel to pay attorney fees arising from an unsuccessful declaratory-judgment coverage action brought by the insurers. Not so here.