Matter of Geico v Escoto and Farm Bureau Ins. Co., 2019 NYSlip Op 09265 (App Div. 2d Dept 2019)
* This was an appeal from an order of NY Supreme Court which stayed a UM arbitration and added a North Carolina resident and his auto insurer to the action for a framed issue hearing.
On December 28, 2016, Felix Escoto allegedly was injured when his vehicle was struck in the rear by another vehicle in Brooklyn. The other vehicle left the scene. However, Escoto took a photograph of a North Carolina license plate which was on the other vehicle. Escoto provided that license plate number to the police officer who responded to the scene. The police officer recorded the plate number, make and type of vehicle in the police report.
Escoto's vehicle was insured by GEICO. The policy included a SUM endorsement. GEICO did a plate search with the North Carolina DMV and determined that the other vehicle, a 2014 Cadillac, was owned by Charles Roberts, Jr., and insured by North Carolina Farm Bureau. But Roberts denied any involvement in the accident and Farm Bureau denied Escoto's bodily injury claim. Subsequently, Escoto demanded UM arbitration from GEICO.
GEICO filed this CPLR article 75 proceeding to permanently stay arbitration of the uninsured motorist claim, or, in the alternative, to temporarily stay the arbitration pending a framed-issue hearing on the issue of whether the other vehicle involved in the subject accident was "uninsured" on the date of the accident. GEICO's petition also sought leave to join Roberts and Farm Bureau as additional respondents. In support of its petition, GEICO submitted a copy of the police accident report and the results of its license plate search.
Roberts and Farm Bureau moved to dismiss, asserting that New York did not have jurisdiction over them since Farm Bureau was a North Carolina company not authorized to do business in New York and Roberts was a North Carolina resident who was not involved in the happening of the subject accident. Supreme Court stayed the arbitration and added Roberts and Farm Bureau as parties. The Appellate Division affimed.
"The documents submitted by GEICO in support of the petition demonstrated the existence of sufficient evidentiary facts to establish a preliminary issue justifying a temporary stay," ruled the Appellate Division. "Through the police accident report and the results of the...