[*1]
Active Care Med. Supply Corp. v Amica Mut. Ins. Co.
2018 NY Slip Op 50500(U)
Decided on April 6, 2018
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This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.


Decided on April 6, 2018
SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE TERM, SECOND DEPARTMENT, 2d, 11th and 13th JUDICIAL DISTRICTS

PRESENT: : MICHAEL L. PESCE, P.J., MICHELLE WESTON, THOMAS P. ALIOTTA, JJ
2016-955 K C

Active Care Medical Supply Corp., as Assignee of Tyrone, David, Respondent,

against

 Amica Mutual Ins. Co., Appellant.

Lawrence N. Rogak, LLC (Lawrence N. Rogak of counsel), for appellant. The Rybak Firm, PLLC (Damin J. Toell and Karina Barska of counsel), for respondent.

Appeal from an order of the Civil Court of the City of New York, Kings County (Theresa M. Ciccotto, J.), entered August 12, 2015, deemed from a judgment of that court entered January 13, 2016 (see CPLR 5512 [a]). The judgment, entered pursuant to the August 12, 2015 order denying defendant's motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint and granting plaintiff's cross motion for summary judgment, awarded plaintiff the principal sum of $1,819.12.

ORDERED that the judgment is reversed, with $30 costs, so much of the order entered August 12, 2015 as granted plaintiff's cross motion for summary judgment is vacated, and plaintiff's cross motion is denied.

In this action by a provider to recover assigned first-party no-fault benefits, defendant moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint on the ground that plaintiff's action is barred by the doctrine of res judicata, and plaintiff cross-moved for summary judgment. By order entered August 12, 2015, the Civil Court denied defendant's motion and granted plaintiff's cross motion. Defendant's appeal from the order entered August 12, 2015 is deemed to be from the judgment entered pursuant thereto on January 13, 2016 (see CPLR 5512 [a]).

While defendant failed to include res judicata as an affirmative defense in its answer or [*2]move to dismiss the complaint on that ground pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) (5) prior to serving its answer, defendant moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint on the ground of res judicata based upon orders in a declaratory judgment action in the Supreme Court, Kings County. We note that "an unpleaded defense may serve as the basis for granting summary judgment in the absence of surprise or prejudice to the opposing party" (Sullivan v American Airlines, Inc., 80 AD3d 600, 602 [2011]). Plaintiff's papers in the Civil Court failed to allege any prejudice (see Barrett v Kasco Constr. Co., 84 AD2d 555, 556 [1981], affd 56 NY2d 830 [1982]; J.K.M. Med. Care, P.C. v Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 52 Misc 3d 137[A], 2016 NY Slip Op 51071[U] [App Term, 2d Dept, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2016])or surprise (see CPLR 3018 [b]; Rogoff v San Juan Racing Assn., 54 NY2d 883, 885 [1981]; J.K.M. Med. Care, P.C., 52 Misc 3d 137[A], 2016 NY Slip Op 51071[U]; Renelique v State-Wide Ins. Co., 50 Misc 3d 137[A], 2016 NY Slip Op 50096[U] [App Term, 2d Dept, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2016]).

"Under the doctrine of res judicata, a final adjudication of a claim on the merits precludes relitigation of that claim and all claims arising out of the same transaction or series of transactions by a party or those in privity with a party" (Ciraldo v JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., 140 AD3d 912, 913-914 [2016]). However, plaintiff herein was neither named nor served in the Supreme Court declaratory judgment action. Moreover, plaintiff was not in privity with the injured party, as the assignment of benefits had been executed before defendant commenced the declaratory judgment action. Thus, plaintiff had no full and fair opportunity to defend its interests in that action (see J.K.M. Med. Care, P.C. v Ameriprise Ins. Co., 54 Misc 3d 54 [App Term, 2d Dept, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2016]; Magic Recovery Med. & Surgical Supply Inc. v State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 27 Misc 3d 67 [App Term, 2d Dept, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2010]). Consequently, defendant failed to demonstrate its entitlement to summary judgment dismissing the complaint based on res judicata.

With respect to plaintiff's cross motion for summary judgment, although the affidavit of plaintiff's employee, who stated that he had personally mailed the claim form to defendant, was sufficient to give rise to a presumption that the claim had been received by defendant (see Residential Holding Corp. v Scottsdale Ins. Co., 286 AD2d 679 [2001]), defendant rebutted the presumption of receipt with an affidavit by its claims representative, who described defendant's procedures for receiving mail and stated that defendant had not received the bill at issue. Consequently, as defendant raised a triable issue of fact in opposition to plaintiff's cross motion, the Civil Court should have denied plaintiff's cross motion.

Accordingly, the judgment is reversed, so much of the order as granted plaintiff's cross motion for summary judgment is vacated, and plaintiff's cross motion for summary judgment is denied.

PESCE, P.J., WESTON and ALIOTTA, JJ., concur.


ENTER:
Paul Kenny
Chief Clerk
Decision Date: April 06, 2018