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Gaston v. American Transit Insurance Co.

NEW YORK COURT OF APPEALS


December 16, 2008

SARAMILIA GASTON ET AL., RESPONDENTS,
v.
AMERICAN TRANSIT INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT.

Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

MEMORANDUM

The order of the Appellate Division should be modified, without costs, by denying plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and, as so modified, affirmed.

In this Insurance Law § 3420 action, defendant insurer should not have been collaterally estopped from litigating the issue of whether the car that collided with the bus in which the injured plaintiffs were traveling was insured on the date of the accident. Three prior judgments involving different parties' claims arising from the same bus accident were submitted to the court. The plaintiffs*fn1 proffered two default judgments that resolved the coverage issue against the insurer while the insurer demonstrated that the same coverage question had been adjudicated in a third proceeding resulting in a judgment in the insurer's favor. In light of these conflicting judgments on the same issue, application of the doctrine of collateral estoppel was not warranted (see Restatement [Second] of Judgments § 29[4]). Since plaintiffs' arguments in opposition to the insurer's cross-motion for summary judgment were not addressed by either of the courts below, we decline to grant the insurer's cross-motion for summary judgment.

Order modified, without costs, by denying plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and, as so modified, affirmed, in a memorandum.

Chief Judge Kaye and Judges Ciparick, Graffeo, Read, Smith, Pigott and Jones concur.


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