Friday, November 6, 2009

Appellate Term, Second Department, No-Fault Decisions

Radiology Today, P.C. a/a/o Charles Rawlins v. GEICO Ins. Co.
(App. Term, 2nd Dept., 2nd, 11th & 13th, decided 10/23/2009)

Order of Richmond Civil (Katherine Levine, J.) REVERSED.  Defendant's unopposed motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint should have been granted.
  • Affidavit of a manager employed by the independent medical review service retained by defendant to schedule and conduct IMEs sufficiently set forth the standard office practice and procedure for the generation and mailing of IME notices designed to ensure that said notices were properly addressed and mailed.
  • The affirmations and affidavits of the medical professionals who were to perform the IMEs established that plaintiff's assignor failed to appear for said IMEs.

Richmond Radiology, P.C. a/a/o Arkady Polevoy v. GEICO Ins. Co.
(App. Term, 2nd Dept., 2nd, 11th & 13th, decided 10/23/2009)

Order of New York Civil (Diane A. Lebedeff, J.) denying plaintiff's motion for summary judgment AFFIRMED. 
  • The doctor performing the peer review did not conclude that he had insufficient information upon which to base a conclusion. Instead, the affirmed report raised a triable issue of fact because "the report clearly indicates that the pertinent [treating] physician's reports and other documentation had been requested and provided for the purpose of conducting a peer review, and the conclusion of lack of medical necessity is based on the peer reviewer's opinion, in effect, that there was no substantiation in the reports and documents reviewed of medical necessity for the [services] provided[.]"

New Wave Oriental Acupuncture, P.C. a/a/o Gerard Ikezi v. Government Employees Ins. Co.
(App. Term, 2nd Dept., 2nd, 11th & 13th, decided 10/23/2009)

Order of New York Civil (Robin S. Garson, J.) granting summary judgment to plaintiff REVERSED. 
  • The affidavit submitted by defendant sufficiently established that the denial of claim forms were timely mailed in accordance with defendant's standard office practices and procedures.
  • It was proper for defendant to use the workers' compensation fee schedule for acupuncture services performed by chiropractors to determine the amount which plaintiff was entitled to receive.

New York First Acupuncture, P.C. a/a/o Anitta Allen v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.
(App. Term, 2nd Dept., 2nd, 11th & 13th, decided 10/23/2009)

Order of Richmond Civil (Diane A. Lebedeff, J.) granting defendant's motion to amend its answer to assert a fraudulent incorporation defense and compel plaintiff to produce its owner for a deposition AFFIRMED.
  • The Civil Court did not improvidently exercise its discretion in granting defendant's application for leave to amend its answer in order to interpose the affirmative defense of fraudulent incorporation, in the absence of any showing that prejudice or surprise would result therefrom and since the proposed affirmative defense was neither devoid of merit nor palpably insufficient as a matter of law.
  • Plaintiff's contention, that the defense of fraudulent incorporation must be asserted in a timely denial of claim form, is without merit. 
  • Defendant sufficiently demonstrated that the deposition testimony of plaintiff's owner, Valentina Anikeyeva, regarding plaintiff's corporate structure was material and necessary so as to warrant the granting of the branch of its motion seeking to compel Ms. Anikeyeva's deposition.
Justice Golia's concurring memorandum is worth a look:
While I agree with the ultimate disposition in the decision reached by the majority, I strenuously disagree with the majority gratuitously raising a nonexistent issue, namely that a Mallela defense (State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v Mallela, 4 NY3d 313 [2005]) may be disallowed if "prejudice or surprise would result therefrom." This impression was created by the majority in choosing here to excise an important requirement with regard to the law of amending an answer. The actual statement by the Court of Appeals in McCaskey, Davies & Assoc. v New York City Health & Hosps. Corp. (59 NY2d 755, 757 [1983] [emphasis added, citations and internal quotations marks omitted]) is that, "Leave to amend the pleadings shall be freely given absent prejudice or surprise resulting directly from the delay."

Inasmuch as it is inconceivable that a Mallela defense of fraudulent incorporation could ever create prejudice or surprise that resulted directly from the delay in raising such defense, it is clear that such analysis is unwarranted.

To me, it is extremely unlikely that an individual who creates a fraudulent entity for the purpose of defrauding an insurance company would forget that he/she did so and be prejudiced or surprised when it was discovered. Such would be akin to a person running a "Ponzi" scheme deciding to invest in his own firm because it was obtaining such good results.
So is Dave Gottlieb's observation on Justice Golia's point.  What do you think?  I get Justice Golia's point on the no surprise part, but I guess whether the "absent prejudice or surprise" aspect attaches to an insurer's leave to amend its answer to add a Mallela defense depends on one's definition of "prejudice". 

Delta Diagnostic Radiology, P.C. a/a/o Frank Louigarde v. Interboro Ins. Co.
(App. Term, 2nd Dept., 2nd, 11th & 13th, decided 10/23/2009)

Judgment of Queens Civil (William A. Viscovich J.) in favor of plaintiff AFFIRMED.
  • Although plaintiff's claim was submitted more than 45 days after the services at issue were rendered, defendant waived its reliance on the 45-day rule as a basis to deny the claim because defendant had failed to communicate to plaintiff, as required by the No-Fault Regulations, that late submission of the proof of claim will be excused where the applicant can provide a reasonable justification for the late submission. 
  • Defendant also failed to demonstrate that discovery was needed in order to show the existence of a triable issue of fact.

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