BM&M Wins Summary Judgment in Insurance Coverage Matter

July 10, 2014

In an underlying action by plaintiff for a personal injury claim against a hair salon, plaintiff was awarded a judgment of $250,000.00 for severe injuries, including significant chemical burns to the plaintiff’s scalp, sustained during a coloring process at the salon.  BM&M’s client, the insurer, denied coverage, citing an exclusion for personal injuries sustained due to the rendering or failure to render professional services.

Plaintiff brought a direct action against the insurer under New York Insurance Law Section 3420 to recover the judgment entered against the hair salon for the $250,000.00, along with pre- and post-judgment interest.  Plaintiff alleged that the policy exclusion was non-specific and ambiguous.  The plaintiff also claimed that the insurer was negligent in failing to provide the insured with proper coverage.  BM&M moved for summary judgment and plaintiff cross-moved for summary judgment seeking a determination of the rights and obligations under the insurance policy.

BM&M partner Neil C. Mascolo and associate Thomas P. Jaffa, crafted a successful argument that demonstrated how the client was not obligated to defend, indemnify or satisfy any judgments resulting from or related to the underlying action and a related Federal Court case.  Our argument was based on our contention that the exclusion was clear and unambiguous and therefore enforceable.

The motions were argued by appellate partner Robert Vizza.  On July 3, 2014, Judge Tingling of the Supreme Court, New YorkCounty granted summary judgment on behalf of BM&M’s client.  The Court agreed that the policy exclusion was unambiguous and therefore valid.  Thus, the insurer was not obligated to defend, indemnify or satisfy any judgment.

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