State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v Amtrust N. Am., Inc. (2024 NY Slip Op 00646)

Reported in New York Official Reports at State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v Amtrust N. Am., Inc. (2024 NY Slip Op 00646)

State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v Amtrust N. Am., Inc.
2024 NY Slip Op 00646
Decided on February 7, 2024
Appellate Division, Second Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.


Decided on February 7, 2024 SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department
FRANCESCA E. CONNOLLY, J.P.
JOSEPH J. MALTESE
PAUL WOOTEN
DEBORAH A. DOWLING, JJ.

2022-03088
(Index No. 705856/21)

[*1]State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, etc., appellant,

v

Amtrust North America, Inc., respondent.




Nicolini, Paradise, Ferretti & Sabella, PLLC, Mineola, NY (Neil Khiani and Joseph T. Darr of counsel), for appellant.

Marschhausen & Fitzpatrick, P.C., Hicksville, NY (Kevin P. Fitzpatrick of counsel), for respondent.



DECISION & ORDER

In a subrogation action to recover damages for unjust enrichment, the plaintiff appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Queens County (Frederick D.R. Sampson, J.), dated March 17, 2022. The order granted the defendant’s motion pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(2) to dismiss the complaint.

ORDERED that the order is reversed, on the law, without costs or disbursements, and the matter is remitted to the Supreme Court, Queens County, for a new determination of the defendant’s motion pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(2) to dismiss the complaint after final resolution of a prompt application to the Workers’ Compensation Board to determine the parties’ rights under the Workers’ Compensation Law.

In July 2018, the subrogors of the plaintiff no-fault insurer, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, allegedly were injured in a motor vehicle accident while traveling in a vehicle insured by the plaintiff. After the plaintiff provided payments for medical services on behalf of the subrogors, it learned that the subrogors had applied for workers’ compensation benefits and that the Workers’ Compensation Board had directed the defendant workers’ compensation insurer, Amtrust North America, Inc., to pay for necessary medical treatments for the subrogors. Thereafter, the plaintiff demanded that the defendant reimburse it for the full amount of no-fault benefits the plaintiff had provided on behalf of its subrogors.

In March 2021, the plaintiff commenced this action against the defendant to recover the benefits paid, alleging causes of action sounding in unjust enrichment. Thereafter, the defendant moved pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(2) to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the Workers’ Compensation Board had jurisdiction over the coverage dispute. In an order dated March 17, 2022, the Supreme Court granted the defendant’s motion. The plaintiff appeals.

“[W]here the availability of workmen’s compensation hinges upon the resolution of questions of fact or upon mixed questions of fact and law, the plaintiff may not choose the courts as the forum for the resolution of such questions” (O’Rourke v Long, 41 NY2d 219, 228; see Liss v Trans Auto Sys., 68 NY2d 15, 20-21). “Since ‘primary jurisdiction with respect to determinations [*2]as to the applicability of the Workers’ Compensation Law has been vested in the Workers’ Compensation Board,’ it is ‘inappropriate for the courts to express views with respect thereto pending determination by the board'” (Chin v Doherty Enters., 207 AD3d 514, 516, quoting Botwinick v Ogden, 59 NY2d 909, 911).

Here, the Workers’ Compensation Board has primary jurisdiction over the coverage issues raised, including the extent to which the medical expenses incurred by the plaintiff’s subrogors are causally related to the subject accident and compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Law (see Matter of Brennan v Village of Johnson City, 213 AD3d 1058, 1059; Matter of Bland v Gellman, Brydges & Schroff, 151 AD3d 1484, 1487). Contrary to the plaintiff’s contention, having not sought review or reopening of the workers’ compensation hearing, the plaintiff has not established that it lacks recourse before the Workers’ Compensation Board (see Workers’ Compensation Law § 142(7); 12 NYCRR 300.13[a][4], [b][2][iv]; 300.14[a]; Matter of Lutheran Med. Ctr. v Hereford Ins. Co., 43 AD3d 1064, 1065). Therefore, the Supreme Court should have referred the matter to the Workers’ Compensation Board (see Lall v Harnick, 212 AD3d 606, 607; Chin v Doherty Enters., 207 AD3d at 516).

The defendant’s remaining contention is not properly before this Court.

Accordingly, we remit the matter to the Supreme Court, Queens County, for a new determination of the defendant’s motion after final resolution of a prompt application to the Workers’ Compensation Board to determine the parties’ rights under the Workers’ Compensation Law.

CONNOLLY, J.P., MALTESE, WOOTEN and DOWLING, JJ., concur.

ENTER:

Darrell M. Joseph

Acting Clerk of the Court



Matter of New Millennium Pain & Spine Medicine, P.C. v Garrison Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. (2024 NY Slip Op 00599)

Reported in New York Official Reports at Matter of New Millennium Pain & Spine Medicine, P.C. v Garrison Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. (2024 NY Slip Op 00599)

Matter of New Millennium Pain & Spine Medicine, P.C. v Garrison Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co.
2024 NY Slip Op 00599
Decided on February 06, 2024
Appellate Division, First Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.


Decided and Entered: February 06, 2024
Before: Singh, J.P., Moulton, Gesmer, Mendez, Rodriguez, JJ.

Index No. 651264/23, 650919/23 Appeal No. 1590-1591 Case No. 2023-03313, 2023-03164

[*1]In the Matter of New Millennium Pain & Spine Medicine, P.C., as Assignee of Michelle Hicks, Petitioner-Appellant,

v

Garrison Property & Casualty Insurance Company, Respondent-Respondent.



In the Matter of New Millennium Pain & Spine Medicine, P.C., as Assignee of Tracey Simpson, Petitioner-Appellant,

v

GEICO Casualty Company, Respondent-Respondent.




Roman Kravchenko, Melville, for appellant.

Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin, P.C., New York (Richard Lane of counsel), for Garrison Property & Casualty Insurance Company, respondent.

Rivkin Radler LLP, Uniondale (Cheryl F. Korman of counsel), for GEICO Casualty Company, respondent.



Order and judgment (one paper), Supreme Court, New York County (Erika M. Edwards, J.), entered July 3, 2023, which denied petitioner’s application pursuant to CPLR article 75 to vacate a master arbitration award, dated January 12, 2023, affirming an arbitrator’s award denying petitioner’s claim for no-fault benefits for medical services rendered to the insured, unanimously affirmed, without costs. Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Sabrina Kraus, J.), entered on or about May 12, 2023, which denied petitioner’s application pursuant to CPLR article 75 to vacate a master arbitration award, dated February 1, 2023, affirming an arbitrator’s award denying petitioner’s claim for no-fault benefits for medical services rendered to the insured, unanimously affirmed, without costs.

Supreme Court correctly denied the petitions to vacate the master arbitration awards. “Generally, a court will not set aside an arbitrator’s award for errors of law or fact unless the award is so irrational as to require vacatur” (see New Millenium Pain & Spine Medicine, P.C. v Progressive Casualty Insurance Company (220 AD3d 578, 578 [1st Dept 2023], quoting Matter of Carty v Nationwide Ins. Co., 212 AD2d 462, 462 [1st Dept 1995]), “The fact that the arbitrator[s] followed First Department precedent in (Harmonic Physical Therapy, P.C. v Praetorian Ins. Co., 47 Misc 3d 137[A], 2015 NY Slip Op 50525[U] [App Term, 1st Dept 2015]) rather than Second Department precedent in (Alleviation Med. Servs., P.C. v Allstate Ins. Co., 55 Misc 3d 44 [App Term, 2d Dept 2017], affd on other grounds 191 AD3d 934 [2d Dept 2021]) does not warrant reversal. To the contrary, this Court has held that, in awarding a claim after a policy has been exhausted, an arbitrator exceeded his or her power since an insurer’s duties cease upon the insurer’s payment of the contractual limit on its no-fault policy (see Matter of DTR Country—Wide Ins. Co. v Refill Rx Pharm., Inc., 212 AD3d 481 [1st Dept 2023], lv denied 40 NY3d 904 [2023])” (id).

New Millennium was not precluded from arguing for the first time in its petitions that respondent insurer took the 20% wage offset twice, first, when issuing payment against gross wages, and second, when taken against the no-fault personal injury protection limit of liability (Insurance Law§ 5102[b]; 11 NYCRR 65-1.1; Matter of DTR Country-Wide Ins. Co. v Refill Rx Pharm., Inc., 212 AD3d at 481). However, the argument is unavailing because Insurance Law § 5102(b) allows an insurer to deduct from first-party benefits to reimburse a person for basic economic loss on account of personal injury arising out of the use or operation of a motor vehicle, 20% of lost earnings plus any other setoffs, such as amounts recovered or recoverable for Social Security disability or Worker Compensation benefits, or disability benefits under article 9 of the Workers Compensation Law (Matter of Lam Quam, MD, PC v GEICO, — AD3d —, 2024 NY Slip Op 00174 [1st Dept 2024]; Normile v Allstate [*2]Ins. Co., 87 AD2d 721 [3d Dept 1982], affd 60 NY2d 1003 [1983]).

New Millennium is not the prevailing party, therefore it is not entitled to attorneys’ fees pursuant to 11 NYCRR 65-4.10 (j)(4) (see Matter of Country-Wide Ins. Co. v TC Acupuncture P.C., 179 AD3d 414, 414-415 [1st Dept 2020]).

THIS CONSTITUTES THE DECISION AND ORDER OF THE SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT.

ENTERED: February 6, 2024



Matter of Lam Quan, MD, PC v GEICO Gen. Ins. Co. (2024 NY Slip Op 00174)

Reported in New York Official Reports at Matter of Lam Quan, MD, PC v GEICO Gen. Ins. Co. (2024 NY Slip Op 00174)

Matter of Lam Quan, MD, PC v GEICO Gen. Ins. Co.
2024 NY Slip Op 00174
Decided on January 16, 2024
Appellate Division, First Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.


Decided and Entered: January 16, 2024
Before: Moulton, J.P., Kapnick, Scarpulla, Higgitt, O’Neill Levy, JJ.

Index No. 651286/23 Appeal No. 1423 Case No. 2023-03165

[*1]In the Matter of Lam Quan, MD, PC, as Assignee of Ginaldi Mirambeaux, Petitioner-Appellant,

v

GEICO General Insurance Company, Respondent-Respondent.




Roman Kravchenko, Melville, for appellant.

Rivkin Radler LLP, Uniondale (Cheryl F. Korman of counsel), for respondent.



Order and judgment (one paper), Supreme Court, New York County (Arlene P. Bluth, J.), entered May 8, 2023, which denied petitioner Quan’s petition to vacate a master arbitrator’s award, dated February 26, 2023, affirming a lower arbitrator’s award, dated January 11, 2023, unanimously affirmed, without costs.

The motion court correctly upheld the master arbitrator’s determination that there were no grounds to vacate the initial arbitration award, as the master arbitrator found that the no-fault arbitrator reached the decision in a rational manner and that the decision was not arbitrary and capricious, incorrect as a matter of law, in excess of policy limits, or in conflict with other no-fault arbitration proceedings (see Matter of Miller v Elrac, LLC, 170 AD3d 436, 437 [1st Dept 2019]). As stated in Matter of New Millenium Pain & Spine Medicine., PC v Progressive Cas. Ins. Co. “[t]he fact that the arbitrator followed First Department precedent in Harmonic Physical Therapy, P.C. v Praetorian Ins. Co. (47 Misc 3d 137[A], 2015 NY Slip Op 50525[U] [App Term, 1st Dept 2015]), rather than Second Department precedent in Alleviation Med. Servs., P.C. v Allstate Ins. Co. (55 Misc 3d 44, 49 [App Term, 2d Dept 2017], affd on other grounds 191 AD3d 934 [2d Dept 2021]), does not warrant reversal. To the contrary, this Court has held that, in awarding a claim after a policy has been exhausted, an arbitrator exceeded his or her power since an insurer’s duties cease upon the insurer’s payment of the contractual limit on its no-fault policy” (220 AD3d 578, 578 [1st Dept 2023]).

Quan’s argument that GEICO took the 20% wage offset twice—first, when issuing payment against gross wages; and second, when taken against the no-fault personal injury protection limit of liability (see Insurance Law § 5102[b]; 11 NYCRR 65-1.1) is unpreserved and, if considered (see Matter of DTR Country-Wide Ins. Co. v Refill Rx Pharm., Inc., 212 AD3d 481 [1st Dept 2023], affd 40 NY3d 904 [2023]), is unavailing (see Normile v Allstate Ins. Co., 87 AD2d 721 [3d Dept 1982], affd 60 NY2d 1003 [1983]).

Quan is not entitled to attorneys’ fees pursuant to 11 NYCRR 65-4.10 (j)(4) (see Matter of Country-Wide Ins. Co. v TC Acupuncture P.C., 179 AD3d 414, 414-415 [1st Dept 2020]).THIS CONSTITUTES THE DECISION AND ORDER

OF THE SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT.

ENTERED: January 16, 2024



Nationwide Gen. Ins. Co. v South (2024 NY Slip Op 00028)

Reported in New York Official Reports at Nationwide Gen. Ins. Co. v South (2024 NY Slip Op 00028)

Nationwide Gen. Ins. Co. v South
2024 NY Slip Op 00028
Decided on January 04, 2024
Appellate Division, First Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.


Decided and Entered: January 04, 2024
Before: Singh, J.P., Scarpulla, Pitt-Burke, Higgitt, O’Neill Levy, JJ.

Index No. 154533/21 Appeal No. 1337 Case No. 2023-02237

[*1]Nationwide General Insurance Company, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v

Richard South, et al., Defendants, ARS Medical Equipment Corp., et al., Defendants-Respondents.




Hollander Legal Group, P.C., Melville (Allan S. Hollander of counsel), for appellants.



Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Suzanne J. Adams, J.), entered on or about April 10, 2023, which, insofar as appealed from, denied plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment declaring that they have no obligation to pay no-fault benefits to defendants ARS Medical Equipment Corp., Ideal Care Pharmacy, Inc., and Rosar Medical Equipment Corp. (collectively defendants) in connection with the underlying August 9, 2020 accident, unanimously reversed, on the law, the motion granted, and it is so declared.

Plaintiffs demonstrated a “founded belief” that the August 9, 2020 accident was not covered by no-fault insurance (see Central Gen. Hosp. v Chubb Group of Ins. Cos., 90 NY2d 195, 199 [1997]; 11 NYCRR 65-3.8[e][2]), based on, among other things, the investigation undertaken by their investigator and the examination under oath (EUO) testimony of the driver of the vehicle in which the claimants were passengers. The driver stated that immediately before the collision, he heard one of the passengers tell someone on the phone to hit the car, and that after the accident the other vehicle fled the scene. Defendants failed to present evidence sufficient to raise an issue of fact as to the bona fides of the accident because they did not provide an affidavit of a person with knowledge supporting the legitimacy of their claims. The affirmation of defendants’ attorney in opposition to plaintiffs’ summary judgment motion was of no probative value (see Ramos v New York City Hous. Auth., 264 AD2d 568 [1st Dept 1999]). Under these circumstances, plaintiffs were entitled to deny coverage pursuant to 11 NYCRR 65-3.8(e)(2)and the provisions of the policy voiding coverage based on fraud (see Matter of Eagle Ins. Co. v Gueye, 26 AD3d 192, 193 [1st Dept 2006]).

Additionally, and as a separate ground for the declaration, plaintiffs demonstrated prima facie that the claimants’ failure to appear for two properly noticed and scheduled EUOs was a violation of a condition precedent to coverage and a valid basis to deny defendants’ claims (see Unitrin Advantage Ins. Co. v Bayshore Physical Therapy, PLLC, 82 AD3d 559, 560 [1st Dept 2011], lv denied 17 NY3d 705 [2011]). The affidavit of plaintiffs’ claims manager and the exhibits attached thereto were sufficient evidence that the notices of the EOUs were sent within 15 days of receipt of the NF-2s (see 11 NYCRR 65-3.5[b]), and the second EUO was noticed within 10 days of the claimants’ nonappearance at the first scheduled EUO (see 11 NYCRR 65-3.6[b]).The affirmation of plaintiffs’ attorneys and the transcript of the proceedings on the dates the EUOs were scheduled showed that the claimants did not appear; and the affirmation of one of the attorneys described in detail the office procedure regarding mailing of the EUO notices. A further affidavit of the operations manager of the company acting as plaintiffs’ agent for receipt of bills and correspondence showed that the denial letters were also timely sent(see 11 NYCRR 65-3.8[*2][a][1], [c]).Defendants failed to present sufficient evidence to raise an issue of fact concerning the timeliness of the EUO the nonappearance of the claimants at the EUOs, and the subsequent denial notices.Whether or not defendants were innocent third parties was irrelevant because “an assignee never stands in a better position than his assignor” (see Matter of International Ribbon Mills [Arjan Ribbons], 36 NY2d 121, 126 [1975]). THIS CONSTITUTES THE DECISION AND ORDER

OF THE SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT.

ENTERED: January 4, 2024



Matter of Country-Wide Ins. Co. v WJW Med. Prods., Inc. (2023 NY Slip Op 06472)

Reported in New York Official Reports at Matter of Country-Wide Ins. Co. v WJW Med. Prods., Inc. (2023 NY Slip Op 06472)

Matter of Country-Wide Ins. Co. v WJW Med. Prods., Inc.
2023 NY Slip Op 06472
Decided on December 19, 2023
Appellate Division, First Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.


Decided and Entered: December 19, 2023
Before: Singh, J.P., Friedman, Gesmer, Shulman, O’Neill Levy, JJ.

Index No. 655205/20 Appeal No. 1268 Case No. 2021-03718

[*1]In the Matter of Country-Wide Insurance Company, Petitioner-Respondent,

v

WJW Medical Products, Inc. as Assignee of Madelin Veras, Respondent-Appellant.




Roman Kravchenko, Garden City, for appellant.



Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Eileen A. Rakower, J.), entered on October 5, 2021, which denied respondent WJW Medical Products, Inc.’s motion for attorney’s fees in connection with a no-fault insurance arbitration award, unanimously reversed, on the law, with costs, to grant the motion except insofar as it seeks interest accruing during WJW’s delay in filing a notice of entry, and the matter remanded to Supreme Court for a recalculation of fees in accordance with 11 NYCRR 65-4.6(d).

Supreme Court should not have denied WJW’s motion for attorney’s fees in its entirety (see Insurance Law § 5106[a]; 11 NYCRR 65-4.6[d]). The court was mistaken in its belief that WJW had not previously sought attorney’s fees under 11 NYCRR 65-4.6(d), which WJW had sought in its cross-petition to confirm the arbitration award., The February 11, 2021 order, which confirmed the arbitration award, granted the application for those fees.

Supreme Court appropriately declined to award interest, however, for the roughly three-month period from February 11, 2021, to May 12, 2021. WJW’s roughly three months of delay in filing a notice of entry went far beyond the 10 days that the February 11, 2021 confirmation order had allotted for the filing. WJW fails to explain why this delay should be considered reasonable (see 11 NYCRR 65-3.9[d]).

We note that WJW is not entitled to attorney’s fees for prosecuting this appeal given that a party is not entitled to “fees on fees” when applying for and substantiating attorney’s fees (see Matter of GEICO Ins. Co. v AAAMG Leasing Corp., 148 AD3d 703, 705-706 [2d Dept 2017]).

We have considered WJW’s remaining contentions and find them unavailing.

THIS CONSTITUTES THE DECISION AND ORDER OF THE SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT.

ENTERED: December 19, 2023



Matter of New Millennium Pain & Spine Medicine, P.C. v Progressive Cas. Ins. Co. (2023 NY Slip Op 05369)

Reported in New York Official Reports at Matter of New Millennium Pain & Spine Medicine, P.C. v Progressive Cas. Ins. Co. (2023 NY Slip Op 05369)

Matter of New Millennium Pain & Spine Medicine, P.C. v Progressive Cas. Ins. Co. (2023 NY Slip Op 05369)
Matter of New Millennium Pain & Spine Medicine, P.C. v Progressive Cas. Ins. Co.
2023 NY Slip Op 05369
Decided on October 24, 2023
Appellate Division, First Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

Decided and Entered: October 24, 2023
Before: Manzanet-Daniels, J.P., Rodriguez, Pitt-Burke, Higgitt, Rosado, JJ.


Index No. 654892/22 Appeal No. 879 Case No. 2023-03262
[*1]In the Matter of New Millennium Pain & Spine Medicine, P.C. etc., Petitioner-Appellant,

v

Progressive Casualty Insurance Company, Respondent-Respondent.

Roman Kravchenko, Melville (Jason Tenenbaum of counsel), for appellant.

McCormack & Mattei, P.C., Garden City (Jamila Shukry of counsel), for respondent.

Order, Supreme Court, New York County (John J. Kelley, J.), entered June 28, 2023, which denied petitioner’s application pursuant to CPLR article 75 to vacate a master arbitration award, dated December 1, 2022, affirming an arbitrator’s award denying petitioner’s claim for no-fault benefits for medical services rendered to the insured, unanimously affirmed, without costs.

The court correctly denied the petition to vacate the master arbitration award. “Generally, a court will not set aside an arbitrator’s award for errors of law or fact unless the award is so irrational as to require vacatur” (Matter of Carty v Nationwide Ins. Co., 212 AD2d 462 [1st Dept 1995]). Here, petitioner does not dispute that the subject policy was exhausted prior to the underlying arbitration, but argues that its claim for no-fault compensation, which was submitted and denied prior to the exhaustion of the policy, should retain priority of payment. The fact that the arbitrator followed First Department precedent in Harmonic Physical Therapy, P.C. v Praetorian Ins. Co. (47 Misc 3d 137[A], 2015 NY Slip Op 50525[U] [App Term, 1st Dept 2015]) rather than Second Department precedent in Alleviation Med. Servs., P.C. v Allstate Ins. Co. (55 Misc 3d 44 [App Term, 2d Dept 2017], affd on other grounds 191 AD3d 934 [2d Dept 2021]) does not warrant reversal. To the contrary, this Court has held that, in awarding a claim after a policy has been exhausted, an arbitrator exceeded his or her power since an insurer’s duties cease upon the insurer’s payment of the contractual limit on its no-fault policy (see Matter of DTR Country-Wide Ins. Co. v Refill Rx Pharm., Inc., 212 AD3d 481 [1st Dept 2023], lv denied 40 NY3d 904 [2023]).

THIS CONSTITUTES THE DECISION AND ORDER OF THE SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT.

ENTERED: October 24, 2023

Matter of Country-Wide Ins. Co. v Bay Needle Care Acupuncture, P.C. (2023 NY Slip Op 05094)

Reported in New York Official Reports at Matter of Country-Wide Ins. Co. v Bay Needle Care Acupuncture, P.C. (2023 NY Slip Op 05094)

Matter of Country-Wide Ins. Co. v Bay Needle Care Acupuncture, P.C. (2023 NY Slip Op 05094)
Matter of Country-Wide Ins. Co. v Bay Needle Care Acupuncture, P.C.
2023 NY Slip Op 05094
Decided on October 10, 2023
Appellate Division, First Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

Decided and Entered: October 10, 2023
Before: Manzanet-Daniels, J.P., Gesmer, González, Kennedy, O’Neill Levy, JJ.


Index No. 650424/16 Appeal No. 749 Case No. 2022-03570
[*1]In the Matter of Country-Wide Insurance Company, Petitioner-Respondent,

v

Bay Needle Care Acupuncture, P.C., as Asignee of Solange Thornhill, Respondent-Appellant.

Gary Tsirelman, P.C., Brooklyn (Gary Tsirelman of counsel), for appellant.

Jaffe & Velazquez, LLP, New York (Thomas Torto of counsel), for respondent.

Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Lyle E. Frank, J.), entered August 3, 2022, which denied respondent Bay Needle Care Acupuncture, P.C.’s motion for attorney’s fees, unanimously affirmed, with costs.

Supreme Court properly denied Bay Needle’s motion seeking additional attorney’s fees pursuant to 11 NYCRR 65-4.10(j)(4), because Bay Needle failed to provide any explanation for the lengthy delay in moving for such relief and failed to submit any proof of the fees incurred. Previously, in a “Decision, Order and Judgment,” dated November 28, 2016 and filed with the Clerk on December 5, 2016, Supreme Court (Kathryn E. Freed, J.) denied petitioner Country-Wide Insurance Company’s petition to vacate a master arbitration no-fault award dated December 28, 2015, dismissed the proceeding, and confirmed the awards of the lower arbitrator and master arbitrator which were rendered in favor of Bay Needle. Approximately five and a half years later, Bay Needle moved for additional attorney’s fees of $2,000 incurred in opposing Country-Wide’s petition.

To the extent Bay Needle argues that it timely sought to submit a proposed judgment within the 60-day period prescribed by 22 NYCRR 202.48, it was rejected by the County Clerk and returned for correction. Bay Needle provided no explanation for its failure to submit a corrected judgment, or otherwise timely move for additional attorney’s fees after issuance of the 2016 Decision, Order, and Judgment. Thus, Bay Needle effectively abandoned its claim.

Moreover, the amount of attorney’s fees awarded pursuant to 11 NYCRR 65-4.10(j)(4) is left to the court’s discretion (see Matter of Country-Wide Ins. Co. v Bay Needle Care Acupuncture, P.C., 162 AD3d 407, 408 [1st Dept 2018]). Here, the court properly exercised its discretion by not awarding additional fees of $2,000 in a case involving a no-fault claim of $2,100, which was resolved six years prior, and where Bay Needle’s counsel failed to provide contemporaneous documentation of the fees incurred.

We have considered Bay Needle’s remaining arguments and find them unavailing.

THIS CONSTITUTES THE DECISION AND ORDER OF THE SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT.

ENTERED: October 10, 2023

Sakandar v American Tr. Ins. Co. (2023 NY Slip Op 03501)

Reported in New York Official Reports at Sakandar v American Tr. Ins. Co. (2023 NY Slip Op 03501)

Sakandar v American Tr. Ins. Co. (2023 NY Slip Op 03501)
Sakandar v American Tr. Ins. Co.
2023 NY Slip Op 03501 [217 AD3d 1005]
June 28, 2023
Appellate Division, Second Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
As corrected through Wednesday, August 9, 2023

[*1]

 Iqbal Sakandar, Appellant,
v
American Transit Insurance Company, Respondent.

The Law Office of Jason Tenenbaum, P.C., Garden City, NY, for appellant.

Short & Billy, P.C. (Andrew S. Midgett, Skip Short, and Greenberg Traurig, New York, NY [James W. Perkins], of counsel), for respondent.

In an action, inter alia, to recover no-fault insurance benefits for lost wages, the plaintiff appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Queens County (Frederick D.R. Sampson, J.), entered December 8, 2020. The order, insofar as appealed from, granted that branch of the defendant’s motion which was to disqualify the plaintiff’s counsel, The Law Office of Jason Tenenbaum, P.C.

Ordered that the order is affirmed insofar as appealed from, with costs.

In 2019, the plaintiff commenced this action against the defendant insurance company, inter alia, to recover no-fault benefits for lost wages. The principal of nonparty The Law Office of Jason Tenenbaum, P.C., counsel for the plaintiff (hereinafter counsel for the plaintiff), had previously represented the defendant in hundreds of no-fault actions. The defendant moved, among other things, to disqualify counsel for the plaintiff from representing the plaintiff in this action based upon Tenenbaum’s prior representation of the defendant. In an order entered December 8, 2020, the Supreme Court, inter alia, granted that branch of the defendant’s motion which was to disqualify counsel for the plaintiff. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

“The disqualification of an attorney is a matter that rests within the sound discretion of the court” (Delaney v Roman, 175 AD3d 648, 649 [2019] [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Albert Jacobs, LLP v Parker, 94 AD3d 919, 919 [2012]). Although a party’s entitlement to be represented in ongoing litigation by counsel of his or her own choosing is a valued right, that right “will not supersede a clear showing that disqualification is warranted” (Matter of Marvin Q., 45 AD3d 852, 853 [2007]; see Scopin v Goolsby, 88 AD3d 782, 784 [2011]). “A party seeking disqualification of its adversary’s counsel based on counsel’s purported prior representation of that party must establish (1) the existence of a prior attorney-client relationship between the moving party and . . . opposing [counsel], (2) that the matters involved in both representations are substantially related, and (3) that the interests of the present client and former client are materially adverse” (Delaney v Roman, 175 AD3d at 649 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Tekni-Plex, Inc. v Meyner & Landis, 89 NY2d 123, 131 [1996]). Any doubts as to the existence of a conflict of interest must be resolved in favor of disqualification so as to avoid even the appearance of impropriety (see Delaney v Roman, 175 AD3d at 649; Janczewski v Janczewski, 169 AD3d 773, 774 [2019]).

[*2] Here, the defendant established that counsel for the plaintiff had a prior attorney-client relationship with the defendant, that the issues involved in his prior representation of the defendant were substantially related to the issues involved in his firm’s current representation of the plaintiff, and that the interests of the plaintiff and the defendant were materially adverse (see Rules of Prof Conduct [22 NYCRR 1200.0] rule 1.9; Delaney v Roman, 175 AD3d at 650).

Accordingly, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in granting that branch of the defendant’s motion which was to disqualify counsel for the plaintiff from continuing to represent the plaintiff in this action. Duffy, J.P., Rivera, Genovesi and Taylor, JJ., concur.

Sakandar v American Tr. Ins. Co. (2023 NY Slip Op 03500)

Reported in New York Official Reports at Sakandar v American Tr. Ins. Co. (2023 NY Slip Op 03500)

Sakandar v American Tr. Ins. Co. (2023 NY Slip Op 03500)
Sakandar v American Tr. Ins. Co.
2023 NY Slip Op 03500 [217 AD3d 1004]
June 28, 2023
Appellate Division, Second Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
As corrected through Wednesday, August 9, 2023

[*1]

 Iqbal Sakandar, Appellant,
v
American Transit Insurance Company, Respondent.

The Law Office of Jason Tenenbaum, P.C., Garden City, NY, for appellant.

Short & Billy, P.C., New York, NY (Andrew S. Midgett and Christopher O’Donnell of counsel), for respondent.

In an action, inter alia, to recover no-fault insurance benefits for lost wages, the plaintiff appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Queens County (Frederick D.R. Sampson, J.), entered December 1, 2020. The order denied that branch of the plaintiff’s motion which was to compel discovery without prejudice to renew.

Ordered that the order is affirmed, with costs.

The plaintiff commenced this action against the defendant insurance company, inter alia, to recover no-fault benefits for lost wages arising out of a 2016 motor vehicle accident. The plaintiff served discovery demands on the defendant. Thereafter, following the defendant’s responses, in 2020, the plaintiff moved, among other things, to compel the defendant to respond to the discovery demands. In an order entered December 1, 2020, the Supreme Court denied that branch of the plaintiff’s motion without prejudice to renew. The court determined that the motion papers were missing copies of the discovery demands served on the defendant and details about what discovery remained outstanding. The plaintiff appeals.

“ ’Resolution of discovery disputes and the nature and degree of the penalty to be imposed pursuant to CPLR 3126 are matters within the sound discretion of the motion court’ ” (Matter of Metro-North Train Acc. of Feb. 3, 2015, 178 AD3d 929, 930 [2019], quoting Morales v Zherka, 140 AD3d 836, 836-837 [2016]; see Honghui Kuang v MetLife, 159 AD3d 878, 881 [2018]). CPLR 3101 (a) provides that “[t]here shall be full disclosure of all matter material and necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action, regardless of the burden of proof.” “The phrase ‘material and necessary’ should be ‘interpreted liberally to require disclosure, upon request, of any facts bearing on the controversy which will assist preparation for trial by sharpening the issues and reducing delay and prolixity. The test is one of usefulness and reason’ ” (Friel v Papa, 56 AD3d 607, 608 [2008], quoting Allen v Crowell-Collier Publ. Co., 21 NY2d 403, 406 [1968]). “The supervision of discovery, and the setting of reasonable terms and conditions for disclosure, are within the sound discretion of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s discretion is broad because it is familiar with the action before it, and its exercise should not be disturbed on appeal unless it was improvidently exercised” (Provident Life & Cas. Ins. Co. v Brittenham, 284 AD2d 518, 518 [2001]; see McBride v City of New York, 208 AD3d 579, 580 [2022]).

[*2] Contrary to the plaintiff’s contention, the Supreme Court properly denied, without prejudice, that branch of his motion which was to compel discovery. The motion papers failed to include copies of the discovery requests served on the defendant or a list of the discovery that remained outstanding.

Under the circumstances, the Supreme Court did not improvidently exercise its discretion in denying that branch of the plaintiff’s motion without prejudice to renew. Duffy, J.P., Rivera, Genovesi and Taylor, JJ., concur.

Sackett v State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. (2023 NY Slip Op 03274)

Reported in New York Official Reports at Sackett v State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. (2023 NY Slip Op 03274)

Sackett v State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. (2023 NY Slip Op 03274)
Sackett v State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.
2023 NY Slip Op 03274 [217 AD3d 1166]
June 15, 2023
Appellate Division, Third Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
As corrected through Wednesday, August 9, 2023

[*1]

 Crystal D. Sackett, Appellant,
v
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Respondent.

Hinman, Howard & Kattell, LLP, Binghamton (Jeanette N. Warren of counsel), for appellant.

Mura Law Group, PLLC, Buffalo (Brendan S. Byrne of counsel), for respondent.

Pritzker, J. Appeal from an order of the Supreme Court (Oliver N. Blaise III, J.), entered June 16, 2022, in Broome County, which denied plaintiff’s motion for, among other things, a declaration that defendant is required to pay plaintiff’s medical expenses up to her policy limit.

In September 2020, the vehicle plaintiff was driving was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by Jane Mei and owned by Tak-Wing Tam, causing plaintiff multiple injuries and requiring her to undergo cervical fusion. Plaintiff is insured by defendant and had no-fault coverage up to $50,000 and additional personal injury protection (hereinafter APIP) coverage up to $50,000. Plaintiff thereafter settled with both Tam’s and Mei’s insurance carriers for $100,000 each, the maximum each policy permitted, and defendant paid plaintiff’s medical expenses up to the policy limit of her no-fault coverage. In addition, defendant paid plaintiff $7,292.85 of her APIP coverage, but refused to pay out any additional money under the APIP coverage and informed plaintiff that it had placed a lien on the $7,292.85 that had been paid out. On February 28, 2022, plaintiff commenced the instant action alleging that her settlement was not sufficient to compensate her for the injuries she sustained and, therefore, seeking a declaratory judgment that defendant was required to pay the remainder of her APIP coverage for her medical expenses and that defendant had no right to a lien on the $7,292.85 APIP already paid to plaintiff. Only two days later, plaintiff filed an order to show cause seeking the same relief sought in the complaint. Defendant subsequently filed an answer as well as opposition to the order to show cause arguing, among other things, that the evidence did not support the sought-after declaratory relief. After a brief oral argument, Supreme Court, apparently treating plaintiff’s order to show cause as a motion for summary judgment, denied plaintiff’s request for declaratory judgment in both respects, finding that she had failed to show that she was entitled to further APIP benefits and that defendant was not precluded from asserting a lien on the APIP benefits already paid to plaintiff, and dismissed the complaint. Plaintiff appeals.

Initially, we discern no error with Supreme Court treating plaintiff’s order to show cause, filed two days after commencement of the action, essentially as a motion for summary judgment seeking ultimate relief (see Matter of Estate of Jason v Herdman, 70 AD3d 1382, 1382 [4th Dept 2010]; Matter of Rine v Higgins, 244 AD2d 963, 964 [4th Dept 1997]). However, “[a] motion for summary judgment may not be made before issue is joined and the requirement is strictly adhered to” (Ward v Guardian Indus. Corp., 17 AD3d 1100, 1101 [4th Dept 2005] [internal quotation marks and citations omitted]; see Gerster’s Triple E. Towing & Repair, Inc. v Pishon Trucking, LLC, 167 AD3d 1353, 1354 [3d Dept 2018]; Peterson v State of New York, 130 AD2d 813, 814 [3d Dept 1987]). “Particularly in an [*2]action for declaratory judgment, all of the material facts and circumstances should be fully developed before the respective rights of the parties may be adjudicated” (Matter of Rine v Higgins, 244 AD2d at 964 [internal quotation marks, brackets and citation omitted]). Accordingly, rather than reaching the merits, Supreme Court should have determined that plaintiff was barred from seeking summary judgment at the time and denied the motion as premature (see Gerster’s Triple E. Towing & Repair, Inc. v Pishon Trucking, LLC, 167 AD3d at 1354-1355; Lindbergh v SHLO 54, LLC, 128 AD3d 642, 644 [2d Dept 2015]). That defendant answered and issue was joined prior to the return date of the order to show cause does not change this determination (see generally Matter of Rine v Higgins, 244 AD2d at 964). Indeed, a review of the record reveals that there are issues to be adjudicated in this action, particularly as to defendant’s right to subrogration, what portion of plaintiff’s settlement is for pain and suffering—and thus not subject to subrogation—and whether plaintiff has been made whole. Thus, while denial of plaintiff’s motion was warranted, the basis should have been that the motion was premature. Accordingly, the complaint must be reinstated and the matter remitted for further proceedings.

Garry, P.J., Aarons, Ceresia and Fisher, JJ., concur. Ordered that the order is modified, on the law, without costs, by reversing so much thereof as dismissed the complaint; complaint reinstated; and, as so modified, affirmed.