IN RE: Government Employees Insurance Company

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

IN RE: Government Employees Insurance Company, appellant, v. Richard Bartlett, respondent.

2012–03179 (Index No. 68/11)

-- December 18, 2013

REINALDO E. RIVERA, J.P. MARK C. DILLON CHERYL E. CHAMBERS SYLVIA O. HINDS–RADIX, JJ. Gail S. Lauzon (Montfort, Healy, McGuire & Salley, Garden City, N.Y. [Donald S. Neumann, Jr.], of counsel), for appellant. Mitchell Dranow, Sea Cliff, N.Y., for respondent.

Argued—November 7, 2013

DECISION & ORDER

In a proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 75 to permanently stay arbitration of a claim for uninsured motorist benefits, the petitioner appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Nassau County (Speziale, Ct.Atty.Ref.), entered March 7, 2012, which, after a hearing, denied the petition.

ORDERED that the order is reversed, on the law, with costs, and the petition to permanently stay arbitration is granted.

On June 29, 2010, Richard Bartlett allegedly was injured when the vehicle he was operating in Manhattan was struck by another vehicle that fled the scene.   On October 1, 2010, Bartlett sought uninsured motorist benefits under a policy of insurance issued by the petitioner.   In a letter dated November 3, 2010, the petitioner disclaimed coverage on the ground that Bartlett, in violation of the supplementary uninsured motorist provision of the policy, failed to report the accident to the police or to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.   In early December 2010, Bartlett made a demand for arbitration of his claim for uninsured motorist benefits.   Thereafter, the petitioner commenced this proceeding to permanently stay arbitration of Bartlett's claim.   The Supreme Court, after conducting a framed-issue hearing, denied the petition.

It is undisputed that Bartlett failed to report the alleged hit-and-run accident to the police or to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles within 24 hours of the accident or as soon as reasonably possible thereafter, as required under the policy.   Contrary to the Supreme Court's determination, the petitioner disclaimed coverage in a timely manner (see Matter of Allcity Ins. Co. [Jimenez ], 78 N.Y.2d 1054, 1056;  Hermitage Ins. Co. v. Arm-ing, Inc., 46 AD3d 620, 621;  Matter of Interboro Mut. Indem.   Ins. Co. v Napolitano, 232 A.D.2d 561, 562).   Accordingly, the Supreme Court should have granted the petition to permanently stay arbitration of Bartlett's claim for uninsured motorist benefits (see Matter of Government Empls.   Ins. Co. v Baik, 94 AD3d 888, 889;  Matter of Eagle Ins. Co. v. Brown, 309 A.D.2d 749, 750;  Matter of Government Empls.   Ins. Co. v Snell, 286 A.D.2d 682, 683;  Matter of Interboro Mut. Indem.   Ins. Co. v Napolitano, 232 A.D.2d at 562;  Matter of State Farm Mut. Ins. Co. v Genao, 210 A.D.2d 340).

RIVERA, J.P., DILLON, CHAMBERS and HINDS–RADIX, JJ., concur.

ENTER:

Aprilanne Agostino

Clerk of the Court

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