In a case of first impression, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, found the insurer had no right to reimbursement of defense costs paid to defend the insured. Am. W. Home Ins. Co. v. Gjoaj Realty & Mgt. Co., 2020 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 8286 (N.Y. App. Div. Dec. 30, 2020).
Gjonaj Realty was sued by Viktor Gecaj when he fell from a ladder at the premises managed by Gjonaj Realty. The matter was not tendered to American Western Home Insurance Company until four years after the accident and after a judgment of $900,000 had been entered against Gjonaj Realty after its default. American denied coverage after late notice was given. Thereafter, the Supreme Court in the underling action vacated the default judgment. American then agreed to defend under a reservation of rights.
The Appellate Division reversed the vacatur of the default judgment and reinstated the default against the insured. American then advised Gjonaj Realty that it was denying coverage and reserving its right to recover any fees and costs incurred in defending the underlying action.