140 U.S. 226 (1891), Equitable Life Assur. Soc. v. Pettus

Citation:140 U.S. 226, 11 S.Ct. 822, 35 L.Ed. 497
Case Date:May 11, 1891
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 226

140 U.S. 226 (1891)

11 S.Ct. 822, 35 L.Ed. 497




United States Supreme Court.

May 11, 1891

In error to the circuit court of the United States for the western district of Missouri.

This was an action brought by Alice L. Wall, a citizen of Missouri, and widow of Samuel E. Wall, and prosecuted by Benjamin F. Pettus, her administrator, against the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, a corporation of New York and doing business in Missouri, on a policy of insurance executed by the defendant at its office in the city of New York on December 23, 1880, upon the life of Samuel E. Wall, by which, in consideration of the payment of $136.25 by him, and of the payment of a like sum on or before December 15th in each year during the continuance of the contract, it promised to pay to Alice L. Wall, his wife, $5,000 at its office in the city of New York within 60 days after satisfactory proofs of his death. 'And, further, that if the premiums upon this policy for not less than three complete years of assurance shall have been duly received by said society, and this policy should thereafter become void in consequence of default of payment of a subsequent premium, said society will issue, in lieu of such policy, a new paid-up policy, without participation in profits, in favor of said Alice L. Wall, if living,' 'for the entire amount which the full reserve on this policy, according to the present legal standard of the state of New York, will then purchase as a single premium, calculated by the regular table for single-premium policies now published and in use by the society: provided, however, that this policy shall be surrendered, duly receipted, within six months of the date of default in the payment of premium, as mentioned above. This policy is issued and accepted upon the condition that the provisions and requirements printed or written by the society upon the back of this policy are accepted by the assured as part of this contract as fully as if they were recited at length over the signatures hereto affixed.' Among the provisions and requirements printed on the back of the policy were the following: '(4) All premiums are due in the city of New York at the date named in the policy; but, at the pleasure of the society, suitable persons may be authorized to receive such payments at other places, but only on the production of the society's receipt therefor, signed by the president, vice-president, actuary, secretary, or assistant secretary, and countersigned by the person to whom the payment is made. No payment made to any person, except in exchange for such receipt, will be recognized by the society. All premiums are considered payable annually in advance. When the premium is made payable in semi-annual or quarterly installments, that part of the year's premiums, if any, which remains unpaid at the maturity of this contract shall be regarded as an indebtedness to the society on account of this contract, and shall be deducted from the amount of the claim; and if any premium or installment of a premium on this policy shall not be paid when due, this policy shall be void; nevertheless nothing herein shall be construed to deprive the holder of this policy of the privilege to demand and receive paid up insurance in accordance with the agreement contained in this policy. (5) The contract between the parties hereto is completely set forth in this policy and the application therefor, taken together, and none of its terms can be modified, nor any forfeiture under it waived, except by an agreement in writing, signed by the president, vice-president, actuary, secretary, or assistant secretary of the society, whose authority for this purpose will not be delegated. (6) If any statement made in the application for this policy be in any respect untrue, this policy shall be void.' The application...

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