Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Timing of Request for Collateral Source Hearing

In Turuseta v. Wyassup-Laurel Glen Corp., while the defendants' motion to set aside the verdict was pending, the plaintiff entered judgment without providing the defendants with notice that she going to do so.  Almost three months after the court denied the defendants' motion set aside the verdict, the defendants moved for a collateral source hearing.  The plaintiff opposed arguing that the defendants' motion was untimely since a judgment had already been entered and the defendant had thirty days within which to file its post-trial motion.  The trial court granted the defendants' motion rejecting the plaintiff's contention that the motion was untimely.  

Last week, the Second Department affirmed holding that CPLR 4545 does not set a time limit for a request for a collateral source hearing and the time limit imposed by CPLR 4404 for motions to set aside the verdict does not apply.  An application for a collateral source hearing can be made at any time before the entry of judgment.  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,'" the Court held that the trial court properly exercised its discretion in granting the defendants' motion for a collateral source hearing.

In a related appeal, the Second Department also reduced the jury's awards of $576,867 for the plaintiff's past pain and suffering and $2,219,229 for 28.2 years of future pain and suffering to $400,000 for past pain and suffering and $750,000 for future pain and suffering.  The plaintiff suffered a fractured coccyx, a herniated disc at L4-L5 and depression.  She also claimed she could no longer work as a result of her injuries.      

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