Lincoln Gen. Ins. Co. v Alev Med. Supply, Inc., 2011 NY Slip Op 21012 )(App. Term 2d Dept. 2011)
In a case with major implications, the Appellate Term for the 9th and 10th Judicial Districts reached a key compromise behind the dicta found at the Appellate Term’s holding in Fair Price v. Travelers (a precluded defense based upon fraud and unjust enrichment may be recouped in a civil action) and one of the many holdings in Cornell Medical v. Mercury (counterclaims or civil actions for paid-out monies are not permitted when the defense to the paid-out monies has been precluded).
Namely, a counterclaim or civil action is permitted where the payments to the alleged fraudulent claims are made within 30-days of receipt of the bills. To quote the court:
If an insurer is precluded from asserting a defense due to its failure to pay or deny a claim within the 30-day claim determination period, it may not later seek to recover amounts it paid on the claim based on a theory of unjust enrichment (see e.g. Cornell Med., P.C. v Mercury Cas. Co., 24 Misc 3d 58 [App Term, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2009]). However, where, as here, an insurer timely pays a claim within the 30-day claim determination period, the insurer is not foreclosed from affirmatively commencing an action to recover the amounts paid on the claim when the insurer later discovers that the claim is fraudulent (see State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v Grafman, 655 F Supp 2d 212, 223-224 [ED NY 2009]; State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v James M. Liguori, M.D., P.C., 589 F Supp 2d 221 [ED NY 2008]; see also Carnegie Hill Orthopedic Servs. P.C. v GEICO Ins. Co., 19 Misc 3d 1111[A], 2008 NY Slip Op 50639[U] [Sup Ct, Nassau County 2008, Austin, J.]; Progressive Northeastern Ins. Co. v Advanced Diagnostic & Treatment Med., NYLJ, Aug. 2, 2001, at 18, col 2 [Sup Ct, NY County, Gammerman, J.]). The fact that the insurer chose to pay first-party no-fault benefits within the 30-day claim determination period, at a point when the insurer had no reason to deny the claim, “cannot in any sense be taken as a concession that the claim is legitimate”
This case has huge implications. I will leave it at that.