May 23, 2007
RJ Med., P.C. v All-State Ins. Co. (2007 NY Slip Op 51061(U))
Reported in New York Official Reports at RJ Med., P.C. v All-State Ins. Co. (2007 NY Slip Op 51061(U))
|RJ Med., P.C. v All-State Ins. Co.
|2007 NY Slip Op 51061(U) [15 Misc 3d 1140(A)]
|Decided on May 23, 2007
|Civil Court Of The City Of New York, Bronx County
|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|This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.
Civil Court of the City of New York, Bronx County
RJ Medical, P.C. a/a/o Fabio Vargas, Plaintiff,
All-State Insurance Company, Defendant.
Nelida Malave-Gonzalez, J.
Plaintiff commenced this action to recover no-fault first party benefits for unpaid medical services provided to Fabio Vargas in the amount of $2, 498.38. In support of its prima facie case, plaintiff submitted a Notice to Admit. Neither plaintiff nor defendant presented any witnesses.
To establish a prima facie case for first party no-fault benefits, proof of a properly submitted statutory claim form or its substantial equivalent is sufficient. The burden then shifts to the defendant to establish the lack of medical necessity. 11 NYCRR §§ 65.3.4(c), 65-3.8(c), CPLR § 5106.The issue before this Court is whether the submission of a Notice to Admit is sufficient to establish a prima facie case to recover no-fault first party benefits for unpaid medical services.
A Notice to Admit is ” . . . a written request for admission . . . of the genuineness of any papers or documents described in and served with the request, or of the truth of any matters of fact set forth in the request, as to which the party requesting the admission reasonably believes there can be no substantial dispute at the trial and which are within the knowledge of such other party or can be ascertained by him upon reasonable inquiry. C.P.L.R. § 3123. Failure to timely respond to a Notice to Admit, either by denial or detailed reason as to why a denial or admission is not possible, shall result in those items requested deemed admitted. However, a Notice to Admit may not be used to elicit an admission of fundamental and material issues or ultimate facts. Meadowbrook-Richman, Inc. V. Cicchiello, (1st Dept. 2000); PDG Psychological, P.C. v. State Farm Ins. Co., 12 Misc 3d 1183(a)(2006).
The issue before the bench is considerably new. A cursory search of New York cases reveals no “on point” appellate decisions which would bind this Court. As such, an analysis of both arguments is worthwhile.
As defined above, a Notice to Admit may be used to settle any fact that is not at issue. A Notice to Admit should not contain any questions that would require that the opposing party concede any material facts. It is for this reason that failure to respond to a notice to admit is deemed as an admission. Conversely, if Notice to Admit is permitted as the sole evidence to [*2]establish a prima facie case, logical reasoning would follow that there was no material issues presented at trial and thus no prima facie case made.
One cannot deem any failure to respond to a Notice to Admit as an admission to a material fact. To allow such would spawn an abuse of this disclosure device and contradict the purpose of the Notice to Admit. Further, it would prevent attorneys from regarding their ethical duty to actively participate in the litigation of each case as well as timely responding to documents submitted by opposing counsel.
Recently, in Fair Price Medical Supply v. St. Paul Travelers Ins. Co., 2007 NY Slip Op. 27173, the Appellate Division, First Department affirmed a case where interrogatories were admitted to prove plaintiff’s prima facie case. Specifically, to establish that in response to the interrogatories, defendant admitted that it received the no-fault claims and made partial payment on the claims. The case at bar is distinguishable from Fair Price Medical Supply for many reasons. Although both discovery devices, the Interrogatory and a Notice of Admit function quite differently.[FN1] First, an Interrogatory must be given under oath, where as a Notice to Admit need not be. Further, an Interrogatory may be used to unearth any relevant subject. However, as defined above, a Notice to Admit may not be used to seek answers to material issues to be resolved at trial. Sagiv v. Gamache, 26 AD3d 368 (2nd Dept. 2006).The instant case is further distinguished from Fair Price Medical Supply because that defendant responded to the Interrogatories. The Appellate Division found it contradictory that the defendant now claims that plaintiff’s did not submit proof that the claims were mailed, received or overdue although these issues were admitted under oath in response to the interrogatory. That is not the case here.
Plaintiff’s Notice to Admit requested the following admissions:
1. That the bill(s) attached to the Summons and Complaint was received by the defendant.
2. That said bill(s) was received on or before 12-01-2002.
3. That defendant did not mail a denial of claim form NF-10 to the plaintiff within thirtydays of receipt of said bill.
4. That defendant did not issue any requests for verification to the plaintiff.
5. That the occurrence of the underlying accident is not disputed.
6. That the assignor’s involvement in said accident is not disputed.
7. That there was a policy of insurance in effect covering the accident of 12/21/01.
8. That the injuries claimed were causally related to the motor vehicle accident.
9. That RJ Medical, P.C. is properly licensed in the State of New York.
10. That the assignor complied with all notice requirements.
11. That plaintiff complied with all notice requirements.
12. That the bill submitted was in accordance with the New York State WorkersCompensation Fee Schedule.
Plaintiff did not submit bills or any other documents to this Court to support the Notice to Admit. Defendant did not respond to the Notice to Admit and alleged at trial, that the plaintiff never submitted the requisite bills or forms with the Notice to Admit. Nor were said bills or [*3]forms previously provided. Defendant’s failure to respond to the Notice to Admit would deem the question of whether the bills were previously submitted as an admission and thus conceded at trial. Although technically correct, the requested admissions go to the heart of the matter. The requested admissions are of material issue at the trial. A no-fault first party benefits case requires only that the requisite bills, forms and substantially equivalent documents be admitted to prove a prima facie case. If admitted to by default during discovery, which is what happens when no response to the Notice to Admit is effectuated, it alleviates the plaintiff any burden of moving forward on its prima facie case. Thus, resulting in the plaintiff having established absolutely no material issue at trial upon which this court could hang the proverbial hat.
The plaintiff did not provide any additional evidence at trial and thus is unable to prove through admissible evidence that payment was not made on a timely submitted claim. As such, plaintiff’s action is dismissed.
The foregoing constitutes the Decision and Order of the Court.
Hon. Nelida Malave-Gonzalez, J.C.C.
Footnote 1: CPLR 3130(1).