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In re Allstate Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

December 26, 2013

In the Matter of Allstate Insurance Company, appellant,
v.
Szczepan Grodzki, et al., respondents- respondents, et al., respondent.

Robert P. Tusa (Sweetbaum & Sweetbaum, Lake Success, N.Y. [Marshall D. Sweetbaum], of counsel), for appellant.

Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff, PLLC, New York, N.Y. (Ryan J. Lawlor and Stacey Haskel of counsel), for respondent-respondent Szczepan Grodzki.

Conway, Goren & Brandman, Melville, N.Y. (Patricia K. Rech of counsel), for respondent-respondent Empire Fire and Marine Insurance Company.

Churbuck Calabria Jones & Materazo, P.C., Hicksville, N.Y. (Robert B. Churbuck of counsel), forrespondent-respondent Hartford Insurance Company.

WILLIAM F. MASTRO, J.P., REINALDO E. RIVERA, JOHN M. LEVENTHAL, CHERYL E. CHAMBERS, JJ.

DECISION & ORDER

In a proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 75 to permanently stay arbitration of an uninsured motorist claim, the petitioner appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Suffolk County (Farneti, J.), dated October 12, 2012, which granted the motion of Szczepan Grodzki, inter alia, pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(1) to vacate a judgment of the same court dated January 24, 2011, granting the petition upon his default in appearing at a framed-issue hearing.

ORDERED that the order is affirmed, with one bill of costs.

To vacate his default, Szczepan Grodzki was required to demonstrate a reasonable excuse for failing to appear at a framed-issue hearing and a potentially meritorious defense to the petition (see CPLR 5015[a][1]; Matter of Royal Leisure v TLAM, Inc., 107 A.D.3d 721; Matter of Government Empls. Ins. Co. v Dae-Hee Lee, 78 A.D.3d 944, 945). Here, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in determining that Grodzki's "law office failure" explanation for his nonappearance constituted a reasonable excuse (CPLR 2005; see Matter of Nahum v Mansour, 109 A.D.3d 548, 549; Green Apple Mgt. Corp. v Aronis, 55 A.D.3d 669). Furthermore, Grodzki demonstrated the existence of a potentially meritorious defense to the petition (see generally Matter of Metropolitan Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v Singh, 98 A.D.3d 580, 581; Matter of American Intl. Ins. Co. v Giovanielli, 72 A.D.3d 948, 949).

The petitioner's remaining contention is without merit.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court properly granted Grodzki's motion, inter alia, pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(1) to vacate the judgment dated January 24, 2011, granting the petition upon his default in appearing at the framed-issue hearing.

MASTRO, J.P., RIVERA, LEVENTHAL and CHAMBERS, JJ., concur.


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