Monday, December 28, 2015

Declaratory Judgment Granted on Default Serves as Res Judicata of Previously Commenced Provider Recovery Claim

Daily Med. Equip. Distrib. Ctr., Inc. v. American Tr. Ins. Co.
(App. Term, 2nd Dept., decided 12/18/2015)

Collateral estoppel is issue preclusion.  Res judicata, Latin for "a matter [already] judged", is claim preclusion.

Plaintiff provider sued American Transit in Queens Civil for for medical supplies provided to its assignor.  After this action was commenced, American Transit commenced a declaratory judgment action in Bronx Supreme against the assignor and all billing providers.  All defendants defaulted in that Bronx Supreme action, and Supreme Court granted American Transit's motion for a default judgment against all defendants, finding that all defendant providers, including the plaintiff in this action, Daily Medical Equipment Distribution Center, were not entitled to recover no-fault benefits arising out of the subject motor vehicle accident.  American Transit then cross-moved for summary judgment in this action based on the declaratory judgment that had been granted by default in Bronx Supreme.

In AFFIRMING Queens Civil's order that denied plaintiff's motion and granted American Transit's cross motion for summary judgment, the Appellate Term agreed that res judicata applied to preclude plaintiff's claim for recovery, even though the declaratory judgment had been granted on default:
Contrary to plaintiff's contention, the instant action is barred under the doctrine of res judicata based upon the declaratory judgment (see Vital Meridian Acupuncture, P.C. v Republic W. Ins. Co., 46 Misc 3d 147[A], 2015 NY Slip Op 50222[U] [App Term, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2015]; EBM Med. Health Care, P.C. v Republic W. Ins., 38 Misc 3d 1 [App Term, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2012]). To hold otherwise could result in a judgment in this action which would destroy or impair rights established by the Supreme Court (see Schuykill Fuel Corp. v Nieberg Realty Corp., 250 NY 304, 306—307 [1929]; Ava Acupuncture, P.C. v NY Cent. Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 34 Misc 3d 149[A], 2012 NY Slip Op 50233[U] [App Term, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2012]). Moreover, the declaratory judgment is a conclusive final determination notwithstanding that it may have been entered on default (see Lazides v P & G Enters., 58 AD3d 607 [2009]; Matter of Allstate Ins. Co. v Williams, 29 AD3d 688, 690 [2006]; Matter of Eagle Ins. Co. v Facey, 272 AD2d 399 [2000]; Ava Acupuncture, P.C. v NY Cent. Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 34 Misc 3d 149[A], 2012 NY Slip Op 50233[U]). 

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