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KARL E. WALLACH v. MONARCH LIFE INSURANCE CO. (09/17/68)

CIVIL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, SPECIAL TERM, NEW YORK COUNTY 1968.NY.42859 <http://www.versuslaw.com>; 295 N.Y.S.2d 109; 58 Misc. 2d 202 September 17, 1968 KARL E. WALLACH, PLAINTIFF,v.MONARCH LIFE INSURANCE CO., DEFENDANT Moses & Singer for plaintiff. Casey, Lane & Mittendorf for defendant. Allen Murray Myers, J. Author: Myers


Allen Murray Myers, J.

Author: Myers

 Plaintiff sues upon a major medical expense policy issued by defendant's predecessor, covering plaintiff, his wife, and children. Subject to the limitations contained in the policy, defendant agreed to reimburse plaintiff for loss "resulting from (1) sickness of the insured, contracted and commencing while this policy is in force, -- or (2) bodily injuries of the insured caused by an accident occurring while this policy is in force".

Plaintiff's cause of action depends upon the interpretation of a clause in the policy which puts a limit on the amount recoverable for "hospital room and board and necessary hospital services and supplies including medicines administered in the hospital" which "are incurred for the treatment of mental disease or deficiencies or psychotic or psychoneurotic disorders or actions".

Plaintiff argues that he is not limited by the said clause, while the defendant argues that he is, and has moved for summary judgment.

The defendant has paid and the plaintiff has accepted the amount payable under the limitation clause without prejudice to plaintiff's right to recover an excess if the court should find that that clause was not applicable.

The material facts are not in dispute. The policy was issued on November 10, 1961. It covered the plaintiff and his son, Charles, who was born on February 12, 1956. The claim is for expenses incurred by the plaintiff during the period September 11, 1966 to April 15, 1967 at the Woods Schools and Residential Treatment Center in Langhorne, Pa., for room, board, treatment and therapy of plaintiff's son, Charles.

Charles was abnormal from the day of his birth. Dr. Donald R. Hirsch, a child neurologist and pediatrician, who is plaintiff's expert, stated in an affidavit submitted on this motion, that "he (Charles) did not attain the milestones that children ordinarily attain at the usual time. * * * he did not begin to walk at the time children usually begin to walk; he did not begin to talk at the time children usually begin to talk; he did not begin to smile at the time children usually begin to smile; he did not begin to think at the time children usually begin to think, and generally, he did not react the way children of the same age normally react. Unfortunately, Charles did not develop normally."

Dr. Hirsch further stated in a letter to the defendant dated October 17, 1966, that,

"It was obvious at about three months of age that Charles suffered from psychomotor retardation. The degree was not known at that time. With each year that passed, it became more apparent that Charles' deficiencies were very profound.

" The original recommendations were that he be maintained at home and attend local schools, and that this course be pursued as long as possible.

"In recent years it has become apparent that home care is no longer possible or productive for Charles. It was therefore recommended that a residential school be found."

Accordingly Charles was enrolled in the Woods Schools on June 20, 1966 and this action was instituted to recover the charges incurred therein exceeding the amount paid in accordance with the limitation clause of the policy.

A transcript of the initial physical examination of Charles conducted on August 12, 1966 by Dr. Julio E. Vassalluzzo, Director of Medical Services of the Woods Schools and submitted to the court states under the heading of "Psychological Testing" that the tests "revealed an I.Q. below 50, poor coordination and notes that Charles is functioning at the 4 to 5 1/2 year level" when Charles was 10 1/2 years of age.

It also states under the heading of "Background History," that Charles "entered The Woods Schools on June 20, 1966 with a diagnosis of encephalopathy of unknown origin with structural reactions manifest and psychiatric impairment". Funk & Wagnalls unabridged New Standard Dictionary (1933) defines "encephalopathy" as "disease of the brain or of its membranes" and "psychiatry" as "the branch of medicine that relates to mental diseases". The court notes that Charles would ...


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