Appeal from an order of the Civil Court of the City of New York, Queens County (William A. Viscovich, J.), entered May 10, 2010.
Medical Polis, P.C. v Progressive Specialty Ins. Co.
Decided on February 21, 2012
Appellate Term, Second Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.
PRESENT: RIOS, J.P., WESTON and GOLIA, JJ
The order, insofar as appealed from, granted the branches of defendant's motion seeking to compel disclosure and thereafter to produce plaintiff's owner, Nikolai Lagoduke, for an examination before trial, and denied plaintiff's cross motion for a protective order.
ORDERED that the order, insofar as appealed from, is affirmed, without costs.
In this action by a provider to recover assigned first-party no-fault benefits, plaintiff appeals from so much of an order as granted the branches of defendant's motion seeking to compel disclosure and thereafter to produce plaintiff's owner, Nikolai Lagoduke, for an examination before trial, and denied plaintiff's cross motion for a protective order. At issue on this appeal is whether defendant's failure to assert a defense pursuant to State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v Mallela (4 NY3d 313 ) precludes it from seeking discovery related to that defense. We conclude that, based on the record before us, defendant made sufficient allegations of fraudulent incorporation to warrant disclosure.
It is well settled that a party is entitled to full disclosure of all
matter that is "material and necessary in the prosecution or defense
of an action" (CPLR 3101 [a]). What is "material and necessary" is
left to the sound discretion of the court and includes "any facts
bearing on the controversy which will assist preparation for trial by
sharpening the issues and reducing delay and prolixity. The test is
one of usefulness and reason" (Allen v Crowell-Collier Publ. Co., 21
NY2d 403, 406 ; Young v Tierney, 271 AD2d 603 ). Where, as
here, an insurer requests discovery concerning a Mallela defense, the
request should be granted as long as there are sufficient allegations
supporting such a defense (see e.g. Kipor Medicine, P.C. v GEICO, 28
Misc 3d 129[A], 2010 NY Slip Op 51247[U] [App Term, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2010];
Midborough Acupuncture P.C. v State Farm Ins. Co., 13 Misc 3d 58 [App
Term, 2d & 11th Jud Dists 2006]; Lexington Acupuncture, P.C. v State Farm Ins. Co., 12 Misc
3d 90 [App Term, 2d
& 11th Jud Dists 2006]). A Mallela defense is non-waivable and may be asserted at any
time notwithstanding the absence of a timely denial (see Midwood Acupuncture, P.C. v State Farm
Auto. Ins. Co., 14 Misc 3d 131[A], 2007 NY Slip Op 50052[U] [App Term, 2d & 11th Jud Dists 2007]).
Here, although defendant never moved to amend its answer to assert a defense based on fraudulent incorporation, it did submit an affidavit containing sufficient allegations of fraudulent incorporation. Defendant included an affidavit from its Senior Special Investigator, who set forth, in detail, plaintiff's close connection with another medical provider whose owner was convicted of, among other things, fraud and falsifying business records. Since defendant made adequate allegations of fraudulent incorporation, the Civil Court did not abuse its discretion in granting those branches of defendant's motion seeking to compel disclosure on that issue, and in denying plaintiff's cross motion for a protective order (see Kipor Medicine, P.C. v GEICO, 28 Misc 3d 129[A], 2010 NY Slip Op 51247[U]).
Accordingly, the order, insofar as appealed from, is affirmed.
Rios, J.P., and Weston, J., concur.
Golia, J., concurs in a separate ...