133 N.Y. 366, Williams v. United States Mut. Accident Ass'n

Citation:133 N.Y. 366
Party Name:FRANCES E. WILLIAMS, Respondent, v. THE UNITED STATES MUTUAL ACCIDENT ASSOCIATION, of the City of New York, Appellant.
Case Date:May 24, 1892
Court:New York Court of Appeals
 
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Page 366

133 N.Y. 366

FRANCES E. WILLIAMS, Respondent,

v.

THE UNITED STATES MUTUAL ACCIDENT ASSOCIATION, of the City of New York, Appellant.

New York Court of Appeal

May 24, 1892

Argued May 2, 1892.

Page 367

COUNSEL

Richard L. Hand and Winsor B. French for appellant. There was no evidence that the insured came to his death by accidental means, within the intent and meaning of this policy or certificate. On the contrary, the proof is that the injury from which he died was occasioned by his own act, and that his death was suicidal. ( Paul v. Ins. Co., 112 N.Y. 472.) The court erred in submitting to the jury, against the objection of the defendant, the question whether or not the injury to the assured was occasioned by his own act, or by a voluntary exposure to unnecessary danger, or intentional injuries inflicted by himself upon himself, under the evidence adduced on the trial. ( Searles v. M. R. Co., 101 N.Y. 661; Taylor v. City of Yonkers, 105 id. 209; De Gorgoza v. K. L. Ins. Co., 65 id. 242.) The judge was clearly wrong in permitting the jury to, and instructing them that they might, draw inferences, when there was nothing in the case from which they could be drawn, and on these inferences found a verdict for the plaintiff. ( Dwight v. G. L. Ins. Co., 103 N.Y. 341; Bulger v. Rosa, 119 id. 459.) This case is clearly within the condition of the policy which expressly exempts the company from liability where the assured voluntarily exposes himself to unnecessary danger. ( Sawtelle v. R. P. A. Co., 15 Blatch. 217; Tuttle v. T. Ins. Co., 134 Mass. 175; Wells v. B. H. R. R. Co., 128 id. 351; Cordell v. N.Y. C. R. R. Co., 75 N.Y. 330; Wendell v. N.Y. C. R. R. Co., 91 id. 437; Van Schaick v. H. R. R. R. Co.,

Page 368

43 id. 527; Cornish v. A. Ins. Co., L. R. [23 Q. B. Div.] 453.) The death of the insured was the direct result of his walking on the road-bed of the Adirondack railway. This was a hazard not contemplated or covered by the insurance, as its terms expressly declare. ( Allen v. G. A. Ins. Co., 123 N.Y. 6; Burkhard v. T. Ins. Co., 102 Penn. St 262.)

Edgar T. Brackett for respondent. The jury having found in favor of the plaintiff on all the controverted questions of fact, and the General Term having affirmed such finding, this court will not disturb the result if there is, in any view, evidence to sustain it. ( Rutherford v. Schattman, 119 N.Y. 604, 605; Meacham v. N.Y. S. M. B. Assn., 120 id. 237, 243; Healy v. Clark, 120 id. 642, 643; Fellows v. Northrup, 39 id. 117-119.) It was the province of the jury to decide on all the evidence whether or not Williams committed suicide, and the evidence is sufficient to sustain their verdict that he did not. (Penal Code, § 172; Washburn v. N. A....

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