Can the Court Impose Sanctions Against a Petitioner Carrier Which Was a Nonparty In the Action ?

In Matter of State Farm Ins. Co. v. Aronin (229 AD2d 499) an appeal was taken from an order imposing $ 10,000 in sanctions against the petitioner carrier. The sanction was imposed in the context of a personal injury action to which the petitioner was not a party. In that case, while the sanction against the carrier was found to have exceeded the trial court's jurisdiction, that determination was predicated upon a finding that prior to the imposition of the sanction the carrier had not been afforded any notice of the court's determination to impose such a sanction for the carrier's failure to provide a representative " 'who has final authority to settle cases' " (supra) or any opportunity to be heard on that issue. The decision did not address the propriety of assessing the sanctions against the carrier, who was not a party; however, the Court concluded that under the circumstances presented, the respondent Justice had exceeded his jurisdiction, giving some comfort but not determining that the carrier was a nonparty in that action.