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Civil Court, City of New York.

RX WAREHOUSE PHARMARCY INC., as a/a/o Mikhail Soldatov., Petitioner, v. ERIE INSURANCE EXCHANGE, Respondent.


Decided: March 22, 2019

Attorney for plaintiff, Damin J. Toell, Esq., Law Offices of Damin J. Toell P.C., P.O BOX 245112, Brooklyn, New York 11224 Attorney for defendant, Desiree Ortiz Esq., Robyn M. Brilliant P.C., 333 West 39th Street, Suite 400, New York, New York 10018

Upon the foregoing cited papers, the Decision/Order on this Motion is as follows:

In an action by a provider to recover assigned first-party no-fault benefits for breach of contract, defendant moves for an order dismissing the action pursuant to CPLR 3211(10) for failure to join a necessary party, or in the alternative, an order extending defendant's time to interpose an answer pursuant to CPLR 2004.

Defendant claims that the assignor, Mikhail Soldatov, while operating his own vehicle, was involved in a motor vehicle incident with another vehicle, resulting in injuries which were treated by the plaintiff.

Defendant moves to dismiss the complaint based on plaintiff's failure to join a necessary party, which defendant argues is the insurance carrier for Soldatov's vehicle. Defendant contends that it never issued a liability insurance policy to Mr. Soldatov, but that it was the insurer of the other vehicle involved in the accident. Defendant argues that since Mr. Soldatov was not an occupant of the vehicle insured by defendant, defendant has no duty to provide Mr. Soldatov no fault coverage.

In opposition, plaintiff contends that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear the defense that an insurance carrier other than the defendant is responsible for plaintiff's claims. The defense, as per plaintiff, involves the priority of payment of insurance carriers, which must be resolved by arbitration, pursuant to 11 NYCRR 65-4.11(a)(6), which states “Any controversy between insurers involving the responsibility or obligation to pay first part benefits is not a coverage questions and must be submitted to mandatory arbitration.”

Plaintiff's claim that the court lacks jurisdiction is unavailing. The priority of payment among insurance carries, applies to an applicant who is an “eligible injured person” under applicable insurance policies including defendant's policy.

In the case at bar, plaintiff's counsel submits no evidence that Mr. Soldatov's vehicle was insured by defendant, or that Mr. Soldatov is otherwise entitled to receive no fault coverage from the defendant. Absent evidence that Soldatov is an “eligible injured person” under defendant's policy, the priority of payment analysis under 11 NYCRR 65-4.11(a)(6) is not triggered or applicable herein.

In contrast, defendant provides an affidavit which unequivocally states it never insured the vehicle owned and operated by Mr. Soldatov. Defendant contends that the insurer of the Soldatov vehicle at the time of the incident, not the defendant, is the carrier responsible for providing Soldatov no-fault benefit. (See 11 NYCRR 65.1(d)(c), a person not an occupant of the vehicle defendant insured at the time of the incident, is not an “eligible injured person” under defendant's policy).

A party may move for a judgment dismissing the action on the ground that the court should not proceed in the absence of a person who should be a party. (see CPLR 3211). In the instant action, defendant has submitted evidence that it did not insure the Soldatov vehicle.

However, plaintiff argues that defendant's claim that another carrier insured the vehicle occupied by Soldatov at the time of the incident must be rejected, as the claim is based on the an uncertified, police report, which is an inadmissible hearsay. Absent the police report, plaintiff argues, defendant would have no basis to conclude that Soldatov occupied his own vehicle at the time of the incident.

While a police report is inadmissible unless the report constitutes a hearsay exception. (see Memenza v. Cole, 131 AD3d 1020), a report based on the officer's personal observations in carrying out her duties, is admissible as a business record (CPLR 4518 (a); Wynn v. Motor Veh Acc Indem Corp 137 AD3d 779 [2d Dept 2016]).

In the case at bar, the police officer was under a business duty to obtain the names of the owners and occupants of the vehicles involved in the incident, which we can infer were based on the police officer's observation. However, as the police report annexed to defendant's motion is not uncertified, it is inadmissible. (See CPLR 4518 (c) a police report may be admitted as proof of the facts recorded therein only if it is certified).

Although the police report may not be admitted into evidence (CPLR 4518 (c)), the Court notes that plaintiff has not presented any evidence to dispute the truthfulness of the officer's presumed observation that Soldatov was the operator of his own vehicle at the time of the incident. (See Wynn v. Motor Veh Acc Indem Corp 137 AD3d 779; Clear Water Psychological Servs. PC v. American Tr. Ins. 54 Misc 3d 915). Accordingly, defendant's motion to interpose an answer is granted.

In its reply, defendant further argues that plaintiff did not provide it with written notification of the incident. Under 11 NYCRR 65-1.1(d), coverage is precluded absent written notification of the accident by the assignor or her representative within 30 days after the incident.

However, defendant's motion is based on plaintiff's failure to sue the proper party and failure to join a necessary party, and not on violation of the requisite 30-day rule. Accordingly, the court will not consider the above argument, as same is raised in defendant's reply (Matter of Forest Riv., Inc. v. Stewart, 34 AD3d 474 [2006]) and is further, not enumerated as a basis of defendant's instant motion to dismiss.

Based on the foregoing, defendant's motion is granted to the extent that defendant may interpose an answer within 30 days, raising all applicable defenses.

Odessa Kennedy, J.

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