Pavlova v Allstate Ins. Co.Annotate this Case
Decided on January 2, 2019
Civil Court of the City of New York, Kings County
Ksenia Pavlova, D.O., a/a/o Thomas, Tara, Plaintiff,
Allstate Insurance Company, Defendant.
For Plaintiff: The Rybak Firm, PLLC, 1810 Voorhies Ave.-3rd Floor-Suite 7, Brooklyn, NY 11235 (718) 569-7040
For Defendant: Abrams, Cohen & Associates, 5 Hanover Square, Suite 1601, New York, NY 10004, (646) 449-7490
Richard J. Montelione, J.
Plaintiff's motion and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment pursuant to CPLR 3212 came before the court on October 18, 2018. In addition to the oral arguments of counsel, the court has considered the following listed submissions of the parties, pursuant to CPLR 2219(a):
Plaintiff's Notice of Motion undated; Attorney Affirmation of Oleg Rybak, Esq., undated; Affidavit of Ciffy Chelle, sworn to on October 13, 2017 (Exhibit 2); and Exhibits 1-5 (inclusive of the foregoing affidavit) 1
Defendant's Notice of Cross-Motion dated June 27, 2018; Attorney Affirmation of Jeff Winston, Esq., affirmed on June 28, 2018; Affidavit of Yamile Souffrant, sworn to on June 18, 2018 (Exhibit B); Affidavit of John Niles, sworn to on May 1, 2018 (Exhibit B); and Exhibits A-K (inclusive of the foregoing affidavits) 2
Plaintiff's Attorney Affirmation in Opposition of Oleg Rybak, Esq., undated; Affidavit of Ciffy Chelle, sworn to on September 14, 2018 (Exhibit 2); Affidavit of Ciffy Chelle, sworn to on September 14, 2018 (Exhibit 3); and Exhibits 1-3
In this action by a provider to recover assigned first party no-fault benefits, plaintiff moves for summary judgment arguing that it established its prima facie entitlement to recovery of its unpaid no-fault bills. Defendant cross-moves for summary judgment based upon plaintiff's [*2]purported failure to appear for four Examinations Under Oath ("EUO") or alternatively, based upon defendant's founded belief that the alleged accident was an intentional loss and therefore, the alleged accident is not a covered event.
Plaintiff argues, inter alia, that the affidavits proffered by defendant are conclusory and insufficient to establish that the EUO letters and denials were timely and properly mailed. Specifically, plaintiff argues that the address on the EUO letters and denials are different and defendant failed to establish that the letters were sent to the correct address. Plaintiff further argues that the non-appearances at the scheduled EUOs were not established as the transcripts proffered did not sufficiently provide personal knowledge of plaintiff's assignor's purported non-appearances.
Where an insurer moves for summary judgment dismissing the complaint on the ground that a provider's assignor failed to appear for an EUO, to establish its prima facie case, the insurer need only establish "as a matter of law that it twice duly demanded an [EUO] from the [provider's] assignor, who had allegedly been injured in a motor vehicle accident, that the assignor twice failed to appear, and that the [insurer] issued a timely denial of the claims arising from the [provider's] treatment of the assignor" (Interboro Ins. Co. v Clennon, 113 AD3d 596, 597 [App. Div. 2nd Dept 2014]; see also 11 NYCRR § 65.15(d); Vladenn Med. Supply Corp. v State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 2016 NY Slip Op 50928[U][App Term 2nd Dept 2016]; Palafox PT, P.C. v State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 2015 NY Slip Op 51653[U][App. Term 2nd Dept. 2015]; Crescent Radiology, PLLC v. American Transit Ins. Co., 31 Misc 3d 134(A), 2011 NY Slip Op. 50622[U][App Term 9th & 10th Jud. Dists. 2011]; Stephen Fogel Psychological, P.C. v. Progressive Cas. Ins. Co., 35 AD3d 720 [2d Dept. 2006]).
Moreover, it is well settled and established that an intentional and staged collision caused in furtherance of an insurance fraud scheme is not a covered accident under a policy of insurance (see Matter of Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v Goddard, 29 AD3d 698 [App. Div. 2nd Dept 2006]; Eagle Ins. Co. v. Davis, 22 AD3d 846 [App. Div. 2nd Dept. 2005]). An insurer asserting a lack of coverage defense must set forth admissible evidence of "the fact or [a] founded belief that the alleged injury does not arise out of an insured incident" (Central Gen. Hosp. v Chubb Group of Ins. Co., 90 NY2d 195 ; St. Luke's Roosevelt Hosp. v. Allstate Ins. Co., 303 AD2d 743 [App. Div. 2nd Dept. 2003]; Ocean Diagnostic Imaging P.C. v. Allstate Ins. Co., 6 Misc 3d 134[A], 134A [App. Term 2nd Dept. 2005]; Amaze Med. Supply, Inc. v. Utica Mut. Ins. Co., 26 Misc 3d 129(A), 129A [App. Term 2nd Dept. 2009]). "[A]n insurer's evidence of a purposeful collision will often be circumstantial. This is to be expected; in the absence of a mea culpa from one of the participants, the insurerand ultimately the courtmust examine the facts and circumstances of the incident to determine whether they give rise to an inference of lack of coverage. Circumstantial evidence is sufficient if a party's conduct 'may be reasonably inferred based upon logical inferences to be drawn from the evidence. (internal citation omitted)'" (V.S. Medical Services, P.C. v Allstate Ins. Co., 11 Misc 3d 334 [Civ. Ct. Kings Cty. 2006], aff'd, 25 Misc 3d 39 [App. Term 2nd Dept. 2009]).
Upon review of defendant's EUO no-show defense, the court finds that the denials issued in this matter were untimely as they were issued on February 2, 2016 and the last EUO was scheduled on December 7, 2015. Defendant had 30 days from the last EUO in which defendant was required to pay or deny the claims (see 11 NYCRR § 65—3.8[a]) and as defendant did not do so in this case, the defense is precluded.
Defendant proffers the EUO transcripts of the passengers and assignor, Bernetta Green, [*3]Craig Alexander and Tara Thomas, and as to the date of loss of August 14, 2015 [FN1] , to demonstrate that the incident was a caused loss and defendant contends that the same established its founded belief that there was a material misrepresentation of the claims; namely, that the accident was in fact, not an accident, but a purposeful collision. Specifically, defendant's founded belief is based upon the inconsistent testimonies between the parties.
Upon a review of the EUO transcript, the court notes that while their testimonies were vague and at times, inconsistent, their recollections are not sufficient to demonstrate that a purposeful collision occurred. Even in considering whether circumstantial evidence exists to demonstrate that there may have been a purposeful collision, the vague testimonies of the parties are not sufficient. Moreover, defendant did not proffer any affidavit from an investigator who can elaborate on why the inconsistencies demonstrate intentional losses. Without a cogent and detailed investigative summary of this type of alleged intentional loss and solely relying on the transcripts alone in this matter, the testimonies given do not rise to the level of a founded belief that the accident was staged. As such, defendant's proofs are insufficient to raise a triable issue of fact.
Plaintiff established its prima facie case through the affidavit of Ciffy Chelle, plaintiff's employee and the bills annexed to the motion (see Viviane Etienne Med. Care v Country-Wide Ins. Co., 2015 NY Slip Op 04787 ).
Therefore, based upon the foregoing, defendant's motion for summary judgment is denied. Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment is granted and plaintiff may enter judgment in the amount of $534.32, together with applicable statutory interest, attorneys' fees and costs.
This constitutes the Decision and Order of the court.
Dated: January 2, 2019
Richard J. Montelione, J.C.C./A.J.S.C. Footnotes
Footnote 1:Defendant demonstrated its compliance with CPLR 3116 through the affidavits of service of Darryl Pierre, an employee of Abrams, Cohen & Associates, who was retained by defendant to schedule and conduct Examinations Under Oath.