The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the Workers’ Compensation Board had primary jurisdiction and must rule on defendant’s eligibility for benefits before Supreme Court can hear an action by the insurer for reimbursement of no-fault payments made to defendant:
In July 2018, the subrogors of the plaintiff no-fault insurer, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, allegedly were injured in a motor vehicle accident while traveling in a vehicle insured by the plaintiff. After the plaintiff provided payments for medical services on behalf of the subrogors, it learned that the subrogors had applied for workers’ compensation benefits and that the Workers’ Compensation Board had directed the defendant workers’ compensation insurer, Amtrust North America, Inc., to pay for necessary medical treatments for the subrogors. Thereafter, the plaintiff demanded that the defendant reimburse it for the full amount of no-fault benefits the plaintiff had provided on behalf of its subrogors. * * *
“[W]here the availability of workmen’s compensation hinges upon the resolution of questions of fact or upon mixed questions of fact and law, the plaintiff may not choose the courts as the forum for the resolution of such questions” … . “Since ‘primary jurisdiction with respect to determinations as to the applicability of the Workers’ Compensation Law has been vested in the Workers’ Compensation Board,’ it is ‘inappropriate for the courts to express views with respect thereto pending determination by the board'” … . State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v Amtrust N. Am., Inc., 2024 NY Slip Op 00646, Second Dept 2-7-24
Practice Point: Where there are unresolved questions of fact about a party’s eligibility for Workers’ Compensation benefits, any action in Supreme Court should be transferred to the Workers’ Compensation Board, which is vested with primary jurisdiction.