CIVIL PROCEDURE, INSURANCE LAW, CONTRACT LAW.
The Third Department determined defendant insurance company’s motion for summary judgment should have been denied as premature. Plaintiff was seeking reformation of the insurance contract to add plaintiff as an insured. Plaintiff held a mortgage on the insured property when the property was destroyed by fire:
Erie’s [the insurance company’s] motion for summary judgment should have been denied as premature. “[A] summary judgment motion is properly denied as premature when the nonmoving party has not been given reasonable time and opportunity to conduct disclosure relative to pertinent evidence that is within the exclusive knowledge of the movant or a codefendant” … . As is relevant to plaintiff’s claim, a party seeking reformation of a contract must establish, by clear and convincing evidence, either that the writing at issue was executed under mutual mistake or that there was a fraudulently induced unilateral mistake … .
The importance of documents and depositions that plaintiff sought but had not been provided is readily apparent. The premise of plaintiff’s cause of action is that, in executing the relevant insurance policy, the corporation and Erie both intended to include plaintiff as a loss payee but that, by mutual mistake, he was omitted. Erie had exclusive knowledge of its understanding of the intended coverage and any intended loss payees at the time of the execution of the relevant insurance policy. Moreover, it is likely to be in exclusive possession of any collateral documents memorializing the intended scope of the relevant insurance policy. Further, plaintiff’s contention that Erie has exclusive possession of employees and materials that could shed light on its intent as to the insurance policy is patently reasonable and not merely speculation … . Imrie v Ratto, 2016 NY Slip Op 08907, 3rd Dept 12-29-16
CIVIL PROCEDURE (CRITERIA FOR DENIAL OF A MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS PREMATURE ILLUSTRATED)/SUMMARY JUDGMENT (CRITERIA FOR DENIAL OF A MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS PREMATURE ILLUSTRATED)/INSURANCE LAW (REFORMATION OF POLICY, CRITERIA FOR DENIAL OF A MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS PREMATURE ILLUSTRATED)/CONTRACT (REFORMATION, CRITERIA FOR DENIAL OF A MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS PREMATURE ILLUSTRATED)/REFORMATION (INSURANCE POLICY, CRITERIA FOR DENIAL OF A MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS PREMATURE ILLUSTRATED)