CPLR 4545 and 4547

CPLR § 4545 Admissibility of collateral source of payment

CPLR § 4547 Compromise and offers to compromise

Casa Redimix Concrete Corp. v Westway Indus. Inc., 2012 NY Slip Op 00407 (1st Dept., 2012)

In addition, plaintiff presented documentary evidence that its specific claim was presented to the surety by Hunts Point in the reformation action. It may be, as Hunts Point's general manager claimed, that this documentation was "merely a tabulation by Hunts Point, as project owner, of the various claims by Westway subs and suppliers that had been made or payments that were outstanding at the time." However, in light of inferences drawn in plaintiff's favor, this fact suggests that plaintiff's claim was at issue in the reformation action. The motion court improperly refused to consider this evidence, since nothing in the record establishes that it is inadmissible under CPLR 4547.

Turuseta v Wyassup-Laurel Glen Corp., 2012 NY Slip Op 00202 (2nd Dept., 2012)

CPLR 4545(a) provides, in relevant part, that "[a]ny collateral source deduction required by this subdivision shall be made by the trial court after the rendering of the jury's verdict." [*2]The statute, by its terms, does not specify the procedures to be employed by the trial court in making the appropriate deductions, and does not specify a time limit within which a defendant may request a hearing to determine the appropriate amount of the deductions. "[A]n application for a collateral source hearing may be timely made at any time before the judgment is entered, unless the court directs otherwise" (Firmes v Chase Manhattan Auto. Fin. Corp., 50 AD3d 18, 32). Here, the defendants established that a collateral source hearing was warranted by tendering "some competent evidence from available sources that the plaintiff's economic losses may in the past have been, or may in the future be, replaced, or the plaintiff indemnified, by collateral sources" (id. at 36; see Nunez v City of New York, 85 AD3d 885, 887-888). In addition, the time limit imposed by the Supreme Court for posttrial motions was clearly meant to encompass motions to set aside the verdict pursuant to CPLR 4404(a), as those types of motions are generally required to be made no later than 15 days after the verdict (see CPLR 4405; cf. Firmes v Chase Manhattan Auto. Fin. Corp., 50 AD3d at 32). Moreover, since "[i]t appears that [the plaintiff's] efforts to enter a judgment may have been undertaken, at least in part, to circumvent potential collateral source setoffs" (Firmes v Chase Manhattan Auto. Fin. Corp., 50 AD3d at 32), in light of the fact that entry of judgment was effected without notice while the defendants' CPLR 4404(a) motion to set aside the verdict was pending, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in granting the defendants' motion for a collateral source hearing despite the fact that judgment had already been entered.

Post accident repairs

CPLR § 4545 Admissibility of collateral source of payment

CPLR § 3101 Scope of disclosure

Stolowski v 234 E. 178th St. LLC, 2011 NY Slip Op 08222 (1st Dept., 2011)

Defendant bears the burden of establishing by clear and convincing evidence that it is entitled to an offset for any collateral source payment that represents reimbursement for a category of loss that corresponds to a category of loss for which damages are awarded in this action (see CPLR 4545; Oden v Chemung County Indus. Dev. Agency, 87 NY2d 81 [1995]. Thus, disclosure of the death benefits that were or will be received by plaintiffs Bellew and Meyran is material and necessary in defense of this action (see CPLR 3101). The collateral source hearing at which a defendant has the opportunity to make the above showing is held after a verdict has been rendered in the plaintiff's favor. However, "[p]retrial discovery is available so defendants can acquire information and documents that may later be used to support a motion for a collateral source hearing" (Firmes v Chase Manhattan Auto. Fin. Corp., 50 AD3d 18, 35 [2008], lv denied 11 NY3d 705 [2008]).

The records of defendant's post-fire repairs and remedial measures do not fall within any of the recognized exceptions to the general rule that evidence of post-accident repairs is generally inadmissible and may never be admitted to prove an admission of negligence (see Fernandez v Higdon El. Co., 220 AD2d 293 [1995]). Contrary to plaintiffs' contentions, "general credibility impeachment" is not an exception. Control is not at issue here since defendant concedes that it owns the premises (see Hyman v Aurora Contrs., 294 AD2d 229 [2002]). The fire department's full investigation of the fire, which produced diagrams and photographs, provides evidence of the existence of a defective condition (compare Mercado v St. Andrews Hous. Dev. Fund Co., 289 AD2d 148 [2001] [plaintiff entitled to seek disclosure of post-accident repairs or modifications where defective condition of sidewalk could not be proven otherwise]; Longo v Armor El. Co., 278 AD2d 127 [2000] [same; parts removed during repair of defective elevator were discarded]).

CPLR § 4545

CPLR § 4545 Admissibility of collateral source of payment

Johnson v New York City Tr. Auth., 2011 NY Slip Op 06402 (1st Dept., 2011)

In a personal injury action, the court must reduce the damages award "if . . . any element of the economic loss encompassed in the award was or will be replaced, in whole or in part, from a collateral source" (Oden v Chemung County Indus. Dev. Agency, 87 NY2d 81, 83-84 [1995]; CPLR 4545[a])[FN3]. An offset is permitted "only when the collateral source payment represents reimbursement for a particular category of loss that corresponds to a category of loss for which damages were awarded" (id. at 84). In other words, there must be a match between the item of economic loss awarded by the jury and the collateral source payment. Because CPLR 4545(a) is in derogation of the common law, its provisions must be strictly construed (id. at 86), and the defendant has the burden of establishing entitlement to a collateral source offset by clear and convincing evidence (Kihl v Pfeffer, 47 AD3d 154, 163-64 [2007]; Young v Knickerbocker Arena, 281 AD2d 761, 764 [2001]).

The trial court correctly found that defendant did not meet its burden of showing that the loss of earnings award should be offset by the amount of plaintiff's accidental disability retirement pension. Defendant does not dispute that under Oden it bears the burden of showing that there is a "direct correspondence" between an item of economic loss awarded by the jury and a collateral source payment (87 NY2d at 87). Defendant argues, however, that a disability pension can only be construed as a replacement for the wages plaintiff would have earned if she had not been injured and had remained on the police force.

However, Oden rejected such a broad rule and declined to allow the disability pension there to offset the jury's lost earnings award. The mere fact that the benefit at issue here is termed a disability pension does not end the inquiry; Oden requires that there be a direct match between the benefit and the loss of earnings award. Here, there was insufficient evidence in the record to meet defendant's burden of establishing that this particular disability pension was meant to replace plaintiff's lost earnings. Nor does defendant identify any statute or legislative history to show that the pension received by plaintiff was intended to be a substitute for lost earnings as opposed to an early retirement benefit conferred upon police officers accidentally injured in the line of duty. Although certain sections of the Administrative Code of the City of New York relate to disability pensions for New York City police officers (see e.g. §§ 13-252 and 13-254), neither the briefs in the trial court nor the briefs submitted to this Court identify these statutes as governing plaintiff's disability pension. We cannot assume that these provisions are applicable, and, in the absence of any citation to them by defendant, we decline to speculate.

Although this Court must take judicial notice of statutes, defendant has not explained which of the myriad pension provisions applies to this plaintiff. The judicial notice question here is particularly complex in light of the fact that plaintiff was previously employed as a transit police officer by the New York City Transit Authority. Thus, it is not clear which pension provisions of the Administrative Code or other statutes might apply here.

We reached the same conclusion and found that the defendant had failed to meet its burden of showing that the disability pension replaced the jury's lost earnings award in Gonzalez v Iocovello (249 AD2d 143 [1998], affd on other grounds 93 NY2d 539 [1999]). To the extent this Court's decision in Iazzetti v City of New York (216 AD2d 214 [1995], appeal after remand 256 AD2d 140 [1998], revd on other grounds 94 NY2d 183 [1999]) purports to stand for the broad proposition that disability retirement benefits always constitute an offset of a lost earnings award, it is inconsistent with Oden, which is the controlling precedent.

We do not hold that Oden sets forth a general rule that disability pensions can never be a substitute for lost earnings. We merely conclude that, in this case, defendant did not meet its heavy burden to show its entitlement to an offset. Oden instructed that "[t]he problem of matching up a collateral source to an item of loss is simply a matter of proof and factual analysis" (87 NY2d at 89). Here, defendant's proof falls far short of the clear and convincing evidence necessary to support a collateral source offset in this case (see id. at 88-89; Gonzalez, 249 AD2d at 144).

Accordingly, the judgment, Supreme Court, Bronx County (Howard H. Sherman, J.), entered March 25, 2009, upon a jury verdict, awarding plaintiff the principal sums of $700,000 for past and future pain and suffering, $500,000 for past loss of earnings and $1,200,000 for future loss of earnings, and bringing up for review orders, same court and Justice, entered September 10, 2007 and on or about July 16, 2008, which, inter alia, denied defendant's posttrial motion to dismiss for failure to make out a prima facie case and, after a hearing, denied defendant's application for a collateral source offset pursuant to CPLR 4545(a), should be reversed, on the law, without costs, the judgment vacated and the matter remanded for a new trial limited to the issue of plaintiff's comparative negligence.