Wednesday, July 16, 2014

ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES - POTENTIAL LIABILITY CLAIMS - A less harmful alternative to tobacco? We are not convinced.

     We are not yet convinced that the hot, new alternative to smoking that “old-fashioned” cigarette is, in fact, a “safer alternative”.  The truth is, the e-cigarette has not been around long enough for us to see what damage, if any, they will do to the consumer.  The unknown is unsettling with the new market of E-cigarettes, but what we do know is that the e-cigarettes’ main ingredients include e-liquids, which may contain toxins.  How could this affect the insurance industry? Well, Swiss Re, Ltd. issued a report today on its website discussing that if the e-cigarettes prove to be more damaging to health than we now know, then it is only logical that there will be liability claims filed for Electronic cigarettes similar to the previous tobacco claims, which led to the notorious tobacco litigation lawsuits.

     In light of this product’s infancy to the market, the few things that we do know about E-cigarettes is that regulation of the $3 billion market is still in process.  European Governments are shooting to ban all advertisements of them starting in mid-2016.  Also, in our government’s effort to regulate the new product and its unknown risks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed in April to extend its oversight of the tobacco industry to include e- cigarettes.  Effectively placing age restrictions on the consumers of the e-cigarettes as well as enacting a ban on free samples and the presence of nicotine-addiction warnings on the product.

     The truth is, we just do not yet know of the repercussions, if any, there will be from the use of e-cigarettes to the consumer and the public close to the “second-hand smoke”.  We may be on the brink of what could be another massive litigation like the tobacco one, now with the newfangled and “less-harmful” e-cigarette.

     Stay tuned, we will keep you apprised of any foresight we may have into the potential liability claims because of the e-cigarette. 

By: Denise Santangelo, Esq.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Liability in Rear-End Collisions

The prevailing view among many New Yorkers when it comes to rear-end collisions is that the driver of the rear vehicle is 100% at fault.  Allstate Insurance Company shared and asserted this view in its summary judgment motion in a recent New York subrogation action.  However, as you will see below, the prevailing view is not entirely accurate.

Allstate sought to recover uninsured motorist benefits that it paid to the plaintiff, Ms. Lopez (its Insured) for injuries sustained when the defendant's vehicle rear-ended her car at a stop sign on the entrance ramp leading to Route I-95.

During discovery, plaintiff stated in her deposition that she had been stopped at a stop sign when her vehicle was struck from behind by the defendant, Mr. Garcia.  In his deposition, Mr. Garcia asserted that the plaintiff had inexplicably stopped suddenly after it had proceeded through the stop sign, resulting in the defendant striking Ms. Lopez's vehicle.

When it comes to rear-end collisions, New York law states that a "rear-end collision with a stopped or stopping vehicle creates a prima facie case of negligence with respect to the operator of the moving vehicle and imposes a duty on that operator to rebut the inference of negligence by providing a non negligent explanation for the collision (see Tutrani v. County of Suffolk, 10 NY3d 906, 908 [2008].  

Therefore, because the Court felt that the defendant's non-negligent explanation — that he had struck plaintiff when she inexplicably stopped her vehicle after it had proceeded through the stop sign — raised a triable issue of fact, it was unwilling to grant Allstate's motion seeking summary judgment.  

By: Richard A. Rodriguez, Esq.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Congratulations to our Co-Founder, Richard A. Rodriguez for being named to the 2013 Super Lawyers New York Rising Stars List

PLAINVIEW, N.Y. (September 17, 2013) - We are pleased to announce that our Co-Founder, Richard A. Rodriguez has been selected to the 2013 New York State Rising Stars list. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.

            Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

            The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information about Super Lawyers, visit

            We are honored to announce this tremendous accomplishment and congratulate Rich on his wonderful achievement.

About Santangelo & Rodriguez, P.C.:

            Santangelo & Rodriguez, P.C. is a professional law firm serving the insurance and business communities as well as the public in a number of practice areas.  Our attorney’s place our clients first, provide them with superb legal services, and offer them creative solutions that lead to the most beneficial result.

            We offer the sophisticated and highly skilled representation expected of a large law firm with the customized, personal service that only a boutique practice can provide. Through the use of the latest technology, our attorneys are able to provide their clients with the resources needed to zealously and cost-effectively represent their interests.

            Our attorneys practice in the areas of insurance coverage, subrogation, matrimonial and family law, business law, and commercial litigation.

            To learn more about what the attorneys at Santangelo & Rodriguez, P.C. can do for you or your organization, please contact us (516) 597-5010 or visit our website at

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Alterra American Insurance Co. is attempting to intercept and free itself from its potential obligation to defend and indemnify its insured, the National Football League (NFL), in more than 90 concussion-related lawsuits by seeking a declaratory judgment from New York Supreme Court this week.

In the complaint filed on Monday, Alterra said the League is expecting the company to be involved in both defending and covering the League with respect to the concussion lawsuits wherein former NFL players or their survivors claim the players’ neurological injuries resulted from the NFL’s negligence and fraud.

Alterra asked the court to rule that it is not obligated to indemnify the NFL or NFL Properties and that it has no duty to defend the NFL in the concussion suits because there is a dispute between the two about how its policy should be read and interpreted.    Alterra claims that under the terms of the policy it is not required to provide coverage.

The list of lawsuits filed by former players such as Mark Rypien, Jamal Anderson, Jeff Hostetler, Art Monk, Alex Karras and Eric Dickerson takes up most of the complaint, nevertheless it represents just a portion of the hundreds of concussion-related lawsuits the NFL is facing.

Many of the suits have been consolidated into a single case in a district court in Pennsylvania.  The NFL is headquartered in New York and Alterra is a New York based company.

In the filing, New York-based Alterra said it issued the NFL and NFL properties an excess casualty follow form policy effective from Aug. 1, 2011, to Aug. 1, 2012. According to the court documents, the Alterra policy had per occurrence limits of $25 million and was excess a commercial umbrella liability policy with $50 million per occurrence limits written by Chartis Inc. and a commercial general liability policy with limits of $1 million per occurrence written by ACE American Insurance Co.

Alterra, which covered the league for only one year, is one of many insurance companies with which the league has a policy.  What can be expected is increasing amounts of pressure on the other insurance companies that provided coverage to the NFL while these players were members of the League and to either provide or deny coverage for these incidents. 

If the declaratory judgment were granted in favor of Alterra, Alterra would, essentially, be cleared from having to defend the league and pay for the damages associated with litigation that now involves more than 3,000 former players.

BY: Denise Santangelo, Esq.