Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mass. Appellate Division holds that insurer's non-specific denial to allegation of complaint does not preclude summary judgment for insurer

Commerce Insurance Company insured a car which was struck by a motorcycle. Belizaire, a passenger in the car, made a claim for PIP coverage. Commerce eventually denied the claim on the basis of non-cooperation.

Lynn Physical Therapy sued Commerce, claiming it was entitled to payment for treatment it had provided to Belizaire. Summary judgment was granted to Commerce on the ground that Belizaire's failure to cooperate precluded coverage.

On appeal to the Massachusetts Appellate Division, Lynn PT argued that summary judgment should be reversed because Commerce never acknowledged that it insured the vehicle in which Belizaire was a passenger. Lynn PT based that assertion on the answer to the complaint and a response to a request for admission. In both instances Commerce denied a lengthy statement which included, among many other facts, the assertion that the vehicle was insured by Commerce.

In Lynn Physical Therapy Inc. v. Commerce Ins. Co., 2011 WL 1744225 (Mass. App. Div.), the court disagreed, noting that Commerce had admitted during the course of discovery that it insured the vehicle.

For some reason the court did not make the most obvious point: If Commerce did not issue the policy, it would not be liable for PIP payments. If it did issue the policy, it was entitled to deny the claim (according to the trial court's findings) because of Belizaire's noncooperation. In either event, Lynn PT would not be entitled to PIP payments.

1 comment:

Marie said...

A very good point, Nina.

Marie Cheung-Truslow, Esq.