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Verdict sustaining that the loss was intentional sustained



V.S. Med. Servs., P.C. v State Farm Mut. Ins. Co., 2014 NY Slip Op 50615(U)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2014)

“Prior to trial, the parties stipulated that the sole question for the jury’s determination was whether the motor vehicle collision at issue was the result of an intentionally caused event. An investigator from defendant’s Special Investigation Unit was the only witness called to testify. Thereafter, plaintiff moved, pursuant to CPLR 4401, for judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, to declare a mistrial. Defendant opposed, and the Civil Court denied plaintiff’s motion. The jury unanimously returned a verdict in favor of defendant, finding that the motor vehicle collision was the result of an intentionally caused event.”

“Thus, the branch of plaintiff’s motion seeking judgment as a matter of law and the motion to set aside the verdict as contrary to the weight of the evidence and for a new trial were properly denied by the Civil Court.”

If I had to guess, I would say it was  a link chart showing that the 1995 Pontiac was involved in 5 prior losses and the loss here occurred immediately after policy inception and the policy was cancelled for non-payment.  I just recall seeing that fact pattern often and the plaintiffs’ attorneys arguing that the carrier was off based for making the leap that this fact pattern circumstantially proved that the loss was less than legitimate.   Certain judges, probably desensitized to the volume of cases, had a similar thought process.  Thus, it took jury trials to bring a semblance of sanity – that it is illogical for a vehicle to be used as a FHA crash dummy surrogate and for the loss to be anything except intentional.

So, my hats off to counsel for defense and to an Appellate Term that allowed the jury verdict to stand.