Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Disclaimer Letter Only Effective to Defendant Addressee Even Though Other Insureds Were Located at Same Address

Maughn v. RLI Ins. Co.
--- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2009 WL 4985691
N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.,2009.

In this Second Department case, the insurance carrier issued a disclaimer letter to the defendant real estate management company. In addition to the management company, the underlying complaint named several other related entities all existing at the same address. The disclaimer letter however, was not specifically addressed to these other defendants. It was unclear whether these entities were referred to in the body of the disclaimer letter or not. The defendants brought a declaratory judgment action and sought summary judgment based on Matter of Eveready Ins. Co. v. Dabach, 176 A.D.2d 879, 575 N.Y.S.2d 347). The trial court granted summary judgment to all the defendants including the management company addressee. On appeal the Second Department reversed the judgment in favor of the management company but affirmed as to the other defendants.

The Court found that the disclaimer letter that was addressed to the management company and sent to the attention of the building manager, within three weeks of receiving notice of the accident, established that the notice provided to it was untimely (see DeFreitas v. TIG Ins. Co., 16 A.D.3d 451, 791 N.Y.S.2d 626; Yarar v. Children's Museum of Manhattan, 4 A.D.3d 420, 421, 772 N.Y.S.2d 85; cf. 875 Forest Ave. Corp. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 30 N.Y.2d 726, 332 N.Y.S.2d 896, 283 N.E.2d 768).