Case of the Day: Green v. First Liberty

The case of the day is Green v. First Liberty Ins. Corp. (E.D.N.Y. 2018). Nefeteri Green was driving in New York City when his car was hit by a car driven by Marco Suazo. Suazo’s car was owned by Monaco and registered to Isabelle Picco, Monaco’s representative to the United Nations. Green alleged that Suazo himself was an employee of the Monegasque mission; Suazo said instead that he was Picco’s husband. Green sued First Liberty, which had issued an insurance policy for Picco’s car. First Liberty moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted.

Ordinarily, of course, the victim cannot sue a negligent tortfeasor’s insurer, because there is no privity of contract between them. That’s a fancy way of saying the insurer undertook a duty to the insured, not to the plaintiff. By statute in New York, an injured person can sometimes sue the insurer, but only if he first gets a judgment against the tortfeasor. This rule was problematic in New York, where diplomats are a dime a dozen, because of the diplomat’s immunity from suit.

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