141 U.S. 564 (1891), Fire Ins. Ass'n v. Wickham
|Citation:||141 U.S. 564, 12 S.Ct. 84, 35 L.Ed. 860|
|Party Name:||FIRE INSURANCE ASS'N, Limited, v. WICKHAM et al.|
|Case Date:||November 16, 1891|
|Court:||United States Supreme Court|
In error to the circuit court of the United States for the eastern district of Michigan. Affirmed.
[12 S.Ct. 84] Action by John W. Wickham, Jr., and others against the Fire Insurance Association, Limited, upon a policy of fire insurance. The question arises on a certificate of division of opinion between the circuit and district judges as to the admissibility of certain parol evidence. The evidence was admitted at the trial, and verdict and judgment were rendered for plaintiffs. Defendant brings error.
The other facts in the case fully appear in the statement by Mr. Justice BROWN:
This case was brought before the court upon a certificate of division of opinion between the circuit and district judges. The action was begun in November, 1884, upon two policies of fire insurance written by the Fire Insurance Association, defendant, upon the propeller St. Paul, of which defendants in error were owners, one of such policies being for $3,500, and the other for $1,500. On the same day actions were begnn against six other insurance companies upon their policies on the same vessel, and an order was subsequently made that all the actions so commenced should abide the event and final determination of the one which the plaintiffs should elect to try. The following facts appeared upon the trial: In 1883 the plaintiffs, who were the owners of the propeller St. Paul, engaged in navigating the Great Lakes, obtained upon her fire insurance policies in 10 companies, to the amount of $40,000. Plaintiffs also had $45,000 of insurance by marine policies on the same vessel at the same time. In all of these policies save one, it was provided that, in case of loss by fire, the loss should be payable in 60 days after proofs of loss had been filed with the company. On November 10, 1883, [12 S.Ct. 85] while on a voyage from the lower lakes to Lake Superior, a fire broke out in the hold of the vessel, and to save her and her cargo she was scuttled and sunk, and the fire thus extinguished. She was subsequently raised, and brought to Detroit for repairs, where she arrived on the 19th of November, and immediately began to discharge her cargo. A few days thereafter, and while her cargo was being unloaded, another fire broke out in her hold, and she was again sunk for the purpose of saving her, and was afterwards raised at considerable expense. On the 15th of December a written agreement was entered into between the plaintiffs and the adjusting agents of the several insurance companies for the purpose of appraising the amount of loss caused by these fires, with a stipulation that the agreement should be 'of binding effect only as far as regards the actual cash value of or damage to such property covered by policies of said companies issued at their various agencies.' It was further added that 'the property on which loss or damage is to be estimated and appraised is the hull of the propeller St. Paul, including the tackle, awnings, furniture, engine, and boiler connections, and appurtenances thereto belonging;' with a further memorandum, following the signature of Wickham, but preceding those of the insurance companies, that 'this agreement does not apply to or cover any question that may arise for saving boat and cargo.' The adjustment under this agreement of the direct loss by fire was completed December 26th, and formal proofs of loss were also sent to the several insurance companies in New York, and were received in due course of mail. The amount of the loss, according to the report of the appraisers, exclusive of the expense of raising and saving the vessel and cargo thus adjusted, aggregated $15,364.78, and the amount proportioned to the plaintiffs in error was $1,920.60. The adjusting agent, in sending proof of loss to the companies, accompanied the same with the following letter to each of such companies:
'Buffalo, January 12, 1884.
'Gentlemen: I inclose herewith proofs, John W. Wickham, Jr., managing owner, for loss and damage prop. St. Paul, which I trust will be found satisfactory:
|The claim as made covers only the loss|
|and damage by fire and water, as per|
|agreement, on the tackle, awnings|
|apparel, furniture, etc., of ........... $ 1,735 08|
|And the appraisers' award on hull,|
|engines, mach'y, etc., of ............... 13,629 70|
|Aggregating in all .................. $15,364 78|
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