Infinity Chiropractic Health, P.C. v Republic W. Ins. Co., 2016 NY Slip Op 51564(U) [53 Misc 3d 144(A)]


Plaintiff commenced an to recover assigned first-party no-fault benefits.  Shortly before plaintiff started its action, defendant commenced a declaratory judgment action in the Supreme Court.   naming, among others, various medical providers, including plaintiff herein, and the three assignors herein, and seeking a declaration that defendant owed no duty to pay first-party no-fault claims.  Supreme Court granted default, against the medical providers but not the individual assignor.

Defendant subsequently moved in the Civil Court for summary judgment dismissing the complaint on the ground that plaintiff’s action is barred by the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel by virtue of the Supreme Court order in the declaratory judgment action.

The Court said:

The doctrine of res judicata is designed to put an end to a matter once it is duly decided (see Siegel, NY Prac § 442, at 772 [5th ed]). Res judicata, or claim preclusion, is invoked when a party seeks to relitigate a disposition on the merits of claims or causes of action arising out of the same transaction which was raised or could have been raised in the prior litigation (see Matter of Hunter, 4 NY3d 260, 269 [2005]; Schuylkill Fuel Corp. v Neiberg Realty Corp., 250 NY 304, 306-207 [1929]). Furthermore, the doctrine of res judicata is applicable to an order or judgment taken by default which has not been vacated (see Matter of Hunter, 4 NY3d at 269; Barbieri v Bridge Funding, 5 AD3d 414, 415 [2004]; EBM Med. Health Care, P.C. v Republic W. Ins., 38 Misc 3d 1 [App Term, 2d Dept, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2012]).

Plaintiff was named and served in the declaratory judgment and ultimately defaulted therein. As plaintiff’s right to recover as an assignee of Lawrence Jones was fully litigated in the Supreme Court action, notwithstanding defendant’s admitted failure to serve Lawrence Jones individually in that action, and notwithstanding that the declaratory judgment made no determination as against Lawrence Jones, individually, the order in the declaratory judgment action was a conclusive final determination barring plaintiff from recovering for any services it rendered to Lawrence Jones arising from the July 16, 2010 accident. Consequently, plaintiff’s claims underlying the fifth through eighth causes of action are barred (see Uffer v Travelers Cos., Inc., 88 AD3d 690, 691 [2011]; EBM Med. Health Care, P.C., 38 Misc 3d at 3).


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