Summary: November 24th 2014: In Simat v. Tower Insurance Co. of New York, No. 8969/2014 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Nassau Cty.), Nassau County Supreme Court Rejects Carrier’s attempt to block Policyholder’s demand for Appraisal in Super Storm Sandy Claim; Judge appoints Umpire to allow Appraisal proceedings to continue. Court Appoints ROBERT J. NORTON as Umpire, explains that “proximity” to the loss site is the driving factor in choosing Umpire Norton.
Background: Stemming from a Superstorm Sandy claim dispute, a policyholder decided to utilize APPRAISAL to resolve their disputes with their Carrier, Tower Insurance Co. As alleged by Tower, the policyholder requested Appraisal, appointed an Appraiser, but failed to “follow policy requirements for seeking an Appraisal”. It seems that the policyholder did not invoke appraisal “in writing”, however, although the Carrier attempted to deny the Appraisal request, they appointed their own Appraiser. This appointment of an Appraiser, by the Carrier, was the basis for the Court’s rejection of the Carrier’s contention that the policyholder “failed” in invoking Appraisal.
Notation: This Court ruled that the the lack of a written “demand for Appraisal” did not atomically cancel the Appraisal, which is noteworthy in it’s own regard. Based on court filings from November 24th, Justice James P. McCormack stated that Tower effectively waived its right to block/deny Appraisal when they had retained their own Appraiser after receiving notification of the policyholder’s demand and appointment of the policyholder’s Appraiser.
So, despite the policyholder’s “written request” for Appraisal, the Court has confirmed the Appraisal, and has now appointed an Umpire to reside over the proceedings.
Court Appointed Umpire: In further review of available documents, the Court Appointed Umpire is ROBERT J. NORTON. This writer is aware that Mr. Norton is a very knowledgeable Umpire, and know this Umpire to be very fair. However, when reviewing the Court documents, there seemed to be some debate regarding the respondent’s Umpire recommendations (which is of course very typical in Court appointments). It seems that the petitioning party provided several Umpire candidates, and there was one whom the Court was originally considering, however after the Court conducted conflict testing, it was noted that this candidate held a local governmental position in the same district.
Proximity: What interested me was the fact that the Court referenced Umpire Norton’s “proximity” (to the loss site) as being the main reason of appointing him. Based upon, at least, Umpire Norton’s public CV, as well as various business listings on line that state that Umpire Norton is based out of Plant City FLORIDA. The Judge stated that his decision to appoint Norton was “largely” based on his “proximity” to the loss site.
However, the loss occurred in Long Island New York.
Assumptions: Based upon the order issued by Justice McCormack on November 25th 2014, it would indicate that Umpire Norton has moved his place of business to the New York region, especially considering that it is obvious that the locality issue was referenced by both the petitioning and respondent parties.
Contradictory Information: Umpire Robert Norton owns the corporation “General Adjusting Services, Inc”, with principle home office located at: 1808 James L Redman Pkwy Suite 391 Plant City, Florida.
WITH RELIANCE ON JUSTICE MCCORMACK’S ORDER: Based upon the order issued by Justice McCormack on November 25th, 2014, it would indicate that Umpire Norton has moved his place of business to the New York region, especially considering that it is obvious that the locality issue was referenced by both the petitioning and respondent parties.