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The Eastman Kodak Company, based in Rochester, N.Y., has been barred from suing its former insurance broker over its alleged failure to transmit claims to the film company’s excess insurance carrier between 1988 and 1990. The six-year statute of limitations, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Herman Cahn said, had long since run out before Kodak’s lawsuit was filed in 1999. Cahn rejected Kodak’s argument that the limitations period should be extended because the alleged negligence continued until the day the relationship between Kodak and its broker was severed, the court said. The judge, ruling in Eastman Kodak Co. v. Prometheus Funding Corp., 121191/99, said that the “continuing treatment” doctrine of professional malpractice law does not apply to insurance brokers. The defendant, Prometheus Funding Corp., the successor-in-interest to Kodak’s longtime insurance broker, Frank B. Hall and Co., could not be sued for professional malpractice, the court said. Therefore, the professional malpractice statute of limitations, which allows for a plaintiff to file a complaint within three years of the termination of “continuous treatment,” has no application. “[M]alpractice is the negligence of a professional toward a client, and … a professional is an occupation that is generally associated with long-term educational training, licensure, standards of conduct, ethics, and malpractice liability,” Cahn wrote, citing a 1999 1st Department decision, Santiago v. 1370 Broadway Associates, 264 AD2d 624. Kodak alleged in its complaint that in 1988, the film company gave Frank B. Hall notice of environmental claims that had been lodged against it, and for which it might have to pay damages and clean-up costs. The insurance broker failed to forward notice to Kodak’s excess insurance carriers for up to two years, the plaintiff alleged. The last claim at issue in the complaint was reported to the excess carrier on Sept. 21, 1990. Prometheus alleged that any cause of action against it had to have been filed, at the latest, by September 1996 under the applicable statute of limitations. The Kodak complaint was filed in 1999. Kodak replaced Prometheus as its insurance broker in 1999, it told the court. Therefore, the broker’s negligence and malpractice was a continuing tort up to the end of the business relationship. Kodak argued that the matter was one of professional malpractice because it “depended on [its brokers] expertise in providing notice to the proper parties in a timely fashion,” Cahn noted. But the common-law definition of professional malpractice requires that the professional be a member of one of the traditional “learned professions” such as law, architecture, medicine and engineering. Eastman Kodak was represented by Philip R. Sellinger and James M. Hirschhorn, of Sills Cummins Radin Tischman Epstein & Gross of Newark, N.J. Prometheus Funding was represented by Michael A. Cardozo, Scott A. Eggers and Dionne C. Greene of Proskauer Rose in Manhattan.

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