The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that once the appraisal award was set aside through no fault of the petitioner-insureds further appraisal proceedings should not have been ordered by the judge. Petitioners’ home was destroyed by fire and the insurer valued the loss at $370,000. The petitioners then demanded an appraisal which was ordered by the court. Once the appraisal was set aside through no fault of the petitioners, the petitioners were free to bring a plenary action to sue on the insurance policy:
… [T]he court erred in remitting the appraisal to the umpire and appraisers for further deliberations. It is well settled that “after an appraisal proceeding has terminated in an award and the award has been set aside, without any fault on the part of the insured[s], [they] need not submit to any further appraisement but may sue on the policy” … . Here, it is undisputed that the court set aside the appraisal award due to errors made by the court-appointed umpire—i.e., not due to any fault of petitioners. Consequently, the court could not properly compel petitioners to participate in further appraisal proceedings … . Indeed, we note that petitioners are now entitled to pursue a plenary action in Supreme Court seeking full recovery on their insurance claim under the policy … . Matter of Stanz v New York Cent. Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 2023 NY Slip Op 05832, Fourth Dept 11-17-23
Practice Point: Here there was a court-ordered appraisal to determine the amount of the loss from the destruction of the insureds’ home by fire. The judge set aside the appraisal because of errors made by the umpire. At that point the insureds were entitled to bring a plenary action for full recovery under the fire insurance policy. The judge should not have ordered further appraisal proceedings.