Failure to Call, as Trial Witness, Attorney Present at EUO results in award to Insured-Plaintiff (NY)
August 23, 2017
In <em><a href="http://blog.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Pierre-J.-Renelique-MD-P.C.-v-Travelers-Ins.-Co..pdf">Pierre J. Renelique MD, P.C. v Travelers Ins. Co.</a></em>, Kings County Civil Court recently examined whether a defendant-insurer owed first party benefits to a claimant, after the insurer disclaimed coverage due to a claimant's failure to appear for an EUO.
The Court found that here, the defendant-insurer failed to prove that plaintiff’s assignor failed to attend the scheduled Examination Under Oath EUO.
At a bench trial in Kings County, the insurer-defendant contended that the assignor of the plaintiff, failed to attend any of the several scheduled Examinations Under Oath impeding their ability to investigate the matter. In order to establish this defense, the defendant must have shown that not only were the EUO requests timely made to the assignor, but that the assignor failed to appear. Each of these elements must be met by someone with personal knowledge.
Defendant produced as a witness, an attorney who oversaw EUO scheduling and the EUO process for the firm representing the defendant in this matter. The attorney testified as to the office procedure regarding the scheduling of EUO’s and the procedure followed when an assignor failed to appear for an EUO. The attorney testified that she mailed out each EUO request to the assignor according to office procedure and she based the requests upon attorney affirmations that the assignor failed to appear for the EUO. The Court credited her testimony regarding the preparation and mailing of the letters scheduling the EUO but found that the witness had no personal knowledge of the assignor’s actual failure to appear. Despite the fact that she testified that she reviewed affirmations from attorneys at the EUO who swore that assignor failed to appear, the Court found this failed to meet the threshold for personal knowledge. Accordingly, Judgment was awarded in favor of the plaintiff.
The Court’s ruling demonstrates importance of laying a complete and proper foundation for establishing all the elements of the defense. Had the defense called someone present at the EUO’s, or perhaps, produced a certified transcript of the EUO, documenting the assignor's failure to appear, the insurer may have prevailed. Thanks to Patrick Burns for his contribution to this post. Please email <a href="mailto:BGibbons@wcmlaw.com">Brian Gibbons</a> with any questions.