A.M. MEDICAL SERVICES, P.C., AAO Rytchagova, Plaintiff(s), v. STATE FARM MUTUAL INSURANCE CO., Defendant(s).
The following papers were read on Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint:
Defendant's Notice of Motion and Affirmation (“Motion”) filed with the court on November 8, 2017. 1
Plaintiff's Affirmation in Opposition (“Opposition”) to the Motion. 2
Defendant's Reply Affirmation (“Reply”) to the Opposition. 3
Civil Court, Queens County Decision and Order dated May 31, 2018. 4
Appellate Term for the 2nd, 11th and 13th Judicial Districts’ Decision and Order dated August 14, 2020. 5
In a summons and complaint filed November 12, 2002, Plaintiff sued Defendant insurance company to recover unpaid first party No-Fault benefits for medical services provided to Plaintiff's assignor Rytchagova, plus attorneys’ fees and statutory interest. The action was marked “inactive” as of June 2, 2007. Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint as abandoned (CPLR 3404) or as barred by laches and to stay interest, which Plaintiff opposed. In an order entered May 29, 2018 (“Prior Order”), the court (H., J.) granted Defendant's Motion on the ground it was barred by laches and dismissed Plaintiff's complaint with prejudice, denied the stay of interest as moot, and noted that CPLR 3404 was inapplicable without ruling on that ground. By notice of appeal filed July 27, 2018, Plaintiff appealed the Prior Order. In a decision and order dated August 14, 2020, the Appellate Term for the 2nd, 11th and 13th Judicial Districts reversed the Prior Order and remitted the matter to Civil Court to determine the remaining branches of Defendant's Motion.
III. Discussion and Decision
The branches of Defendant's Motion remaining after the remand by the Appellate Term sought dismissal on the ground that the Plaintiff abandoned the action by failing to restore the action since it was marked disposed on June 2, 2007, and alternatively, sought to stay interest from June 2, 2007, the date the matter was marked off, until the date the matter was restored.
CPLR 3404 provides:
A case in the supreme court or a county court marked “off” or struck from the calendar or unanswered on a clerk's calendar call, and not restored within one year thereafter, shall be deemed abandoned and shall be dismissed without costs for neglect to prosecute. The clerk shall make an appropriate entry without the necessity of an order.
It is well established that CPLR 3404 does not apply to actions in New York City Civil Court (Chavez v 407 Seventh Ave. Corp., 39 AD3d 454, 456 [2d Dept 2007]; Gaetane Physical Therapy, P.C. v Kemper Auto & Home Ins. Co., 50 Misc 3d 144[A], 2016 NY Slip Op 50255[U] *1 [App Term 2d Dept 2016]; Halpern v Tunne, 38 Misc 3d 126[A], 2012 NY Slip Op 52321[U] * 2 [App Term 2d Dept 2012]; Small v Metropolitan Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 35 Misc 3d 134[A], 2012 NY Slip Op 50760[U] * 1 [App Term 2d Dept 2012]). Even if CPLR 3404 were to be applied in New York City Civil Court, since CPLR 3404 does not apply to pre-note of issue actions (Guillebeaux v Parrott, 188 AD3d 1017, 1017 [2d Dept 2020]; Onewest Bank, FSB v Kaur, 172 AD3d 1392, 1393 [2d Dept 2019]; Kapnisakis v Woo, 114 AD3d 729, 730 [2d Dept 2014]; Arroyo v Board of Educ. Of City of NY, 110 AD3d 17, 19 [2d Dept 2013]), CPLR 3404 furnished no basis to dismiss as no party had filed a notice of trial, which is the Civil Court equivalent of the note of issue (Exceptional Med. Care, P.C. v Fiduciary Ins. Co., 43 Misc 3d 75, 76 [App Term 2d Dept 2014]; Tong Li v Citiwide Auto Leasing, Inc., 43 Misc 3d 128[A], 2014 NY Slip Op 50481[U] *1 [App Term 2d Dept 2014]; Richman v Obiakor Obstetrics & Gynecology, P.C., 32 Misc 3d 135[A], 2011 NY Slip Op 51461[U] *1 [App Term 2d Dept 2011]). Therefore, this Court denies Defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to CPLR 3404.
In its Reply, Defendant also contended that Plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed pursuant to 22 NYCRR § 208.14[c], which provides that “[a]ctions stricken from the calendar may be restored to the calendar only upon stipulation of all parties so ordered by the court or by motion on notice to all other parties, made within one year after the action is stricken.” Here, Defendant's arguments regarding 22 N.Y.C.R.R. § 208.14[c] were improperly raised for the first time in its Reply (Grocery Leasing Corp. v P & C Merrick Realty Co., LLC, 197 AD3d 625, 627 [2d Dept 2021]; Deutsche Bank Natl. Trust Co. v March, 191 AD3d 762, 763 [2d Dept 2021]). Although Plaintiff did not address this contention in its improper sur-reply, in any event, 22 N.Y.C.R.R.§ 208.14[c] “makes no provision for dismissing an action for neglect to prosecute” (Chavez v 407 Seventh Ave. Corp., 39 AD3d at 456; Hillside Place, LLC v Shahid, 55 Misc 3d 101, 103 [App Term 2d Dept 2017]; Marone v Bevelaqua, 36 Misc 3d 140[A], 2012 NY Slip Op 51484[U] *2 [App Term 2d Dept 2012]), which was what Defendant argued here. Despite the inapplicability of CPLR 3404 and 22 N.Y.C.R.R. § 208.14[c], Defendant is not without remedy (see Guillebeaux v Parrott, 188 AD3d at 1018; Onewest Bank, FSB v Kaur, 172 AD3d at 1393; General Assur. Co. v. Lachmenar, 45 Misc 3d 134[A], 2014 NY Slip Op 51722[U] *2 [App Term 2d Dept 2014]).
Defendant alternatively argued that interest accrual should be stayed from the time the case was marked off until the time it is restored. “If an applicant has submitted a dispute to arbitration or the courts, interest shall accumulate, unless the applicant unreasonably delays the arbitration or court proceeding” (11 NYCRR § 65-3.9[d]; East Acupuncture, P.C. v Allstate Ins. Co., 61 AD3d 202, 204 n. 2 [2d Dept 2009]; Kew Gardens Med & Rehab, P.C. v Country-Wide Ins. Co., 52 Misc 3d 143[A], 2016 NY Slip Op 51240[U] *1 [App Term 2d Dept 2016]; Aminov v Country Wide Ins. Co., 43 Misc 3d 87, 89 [App Term 2d Dept 2014]). Although Plaintiff commenced the action on November 12, 2002, the only activity in the action was Plaintiff's motion and Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment, which were both denied in an order (Butler, J.) entered September 9, 2004, Defendant's instant Motion to dismiss, which was filed with the court on November 8, 2017 and the subsequent appellate practice culminating in the order of the Appellate Term dated August 14, 2020.
As noted above, Plaintiff has not filed a notice of trial. Although the case was “inactive” as of June 2, 2007, a disposed marking of a pre-note of issue case is not permitted (Bilkho v Roosevelt Sq., LLC, 157 AD3d 849, 850 [2d Dept 2018]; Khaolaead v Leisure Video, 18 AD3d 820, 821 [2d Dept 2005], see Arroyo v Board of Educ. Of City of NY, 110 AD3d at 21). Here, the disposed marking does not prevent Plaintiff from prosecuting the case because undoing such marking does not require a motion to restore (Arroyo v Board of Educ. of City of NY, 110 AD3d at 20; General Assur. Co. v Lachmenar, 2014 NY Slip Op 51722[U] *2 [App Term 2d Dept 2014]). Plaintiff should not be rewarded for the years of inactivity in the court proceeding “by receiving a windfall of interest” (Kew Gardens Med & Rehab, P.C. v Country-Wide Ins. Co., 2016 NY Slip Op 51240[U] *1; V.S. Medical Services, P.C. v Travelers Ins. Co., 49 Misc 3d 152[A], 2015 NY Slip Op 51760[U] *2 [App Term 2d Dept 2015]; Aminov v Country Wide Ins. Co., 43 Misc 3d at 89). Therefore, this Court grants this branch of Defendant's motion and in the event that Plaintiff prevails on its claim, fixes the date interest accrues to such date as a notice of trial is filed (see V.S. Medical Services, P.C. v Travelers Ins. Co., 2015 NY Slip Op 51760[U] * 2; Aminov v Country Wide Ins. Co., 43 Misc 3d at 89).
Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that Defendant's motion to dismiss on the ground that Plaintiff abandoned the action is denied; and it is further
ORDERED that Defendant's motion to fix accrual of interest is granted; and it is further
ORDERED that in the event Plaintiff prevails on its claims, interest shall accrue from the filing date of the notice of trial.
This constitutes the Decision and Order of this Court.
Wendy Changyong Li, J.
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