269 F.2d 805 (6th Cir. 1959), 13594, Allstate Ins. Co. v. Springer

Docket Nº:13594.
Citation:269 F.2d 805
Party Name:ALLSTATE INSURANCE CO., Appellant, v. Erma F. SPRINGER, Murl D. Springer, Clare Goodman, Forrest M. E. Johnson, Anna Gulch, Administratrix of the Estate of Stephen Stanley Gulch, Deceased, Dorothy E. Swartz, Administratrix of the Estate of Harold Swartz, Deceased, and Indiana Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Company, Appellees.
Case Date:August 28, 1959
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 805

269 F.2d 805 (6th Cir. 1959)

ALLSTATE INSURANCE CO., Appellant,

v.

Erma F. SPRINGER, Murl D. Springer, Clare Goodman, Forrest M. E. Johnson, Anna Gulch, Administratrix of the Estate of Stephen Stanley Gulch, Deceased, Dorothy E. Swartz, Administratrix of the Estate of Harold Swartz, Deceased, and Indiana Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Company, Appellees.

No. 13594.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

August 28, 1959

Page 806

Alexis J. Rogoski, Muskegon, Mich., Robert Bunker Rogoski, Muskegon, Mich., on the Brief, for appellant.

Fred Roland Allaben, Grand Rapids, Mich., Allaben, Davids & Massie, Grand Rapids, Mich., on the brief, for appellees.

Before SIMONS and SHACKELFORD MILLER, Jr., Circuit Judges, and SHELBOURNE, District Judge.

SHACKELFORD MILLER, Jr., Circuit Judge.

Appellant, Allstate Insurance Company, brought this declaratory judgment action seeking an adjudication that a policy of automobile liability insurance,

Page 807

issued by it to the appellee Erma F. Springer, was void from its inception for fraud and afforded no benefits or protection to the insured or to any of the appellees making claims thereunder. Following a trial by jury which returned special verdicts, the appellant's contention was rejected by the District Court.

The insurance policy covered a Buick automobile which, prior to March 17, 1954, was owned by the appellee Murl D. Springer and who on or about that date transferred it to his wife, Erma F. Springer. On April 2, 1954, Erma Springer made written application to the appellant for liability insurance and the appellant issued to her the insurance policy in question covering the Buick automobile for a term of twelve calendar months ending April 3, 1955. At the expiration of that term the appellant issued a certificate extending the policy coverage for an additional period of one year until April 3, 1956.

On November 13, 1955, Murl Springer who, with the consent of his wife, was driving the insured automobile, collided with a Plymouth automobile owned and driven by Harold Swartz. Swartz and Stephen Gulch, a passenger in his car, died as a result of injuries received in the accident. Two other occupants of the Swartz car, appellees Clare Goodman and Forrest M. E. Johnson, were injured.

Appellant contends that the insurance policy covering the Buick automobile, and the extension thereof, were null and void because of false and fraudulent statements made by Erma Springer in her answers to questions Nos. 6 and 7 in her application for the policy. These questions read as follows:

'6. During the past two years, has any insurer cancelled any automobile insurance issued, or refused any automobile insurance to the applicant or to any of his household?

'7. During the past two years, has any automobile license, or permit to applicant or to any of his household to drive an automobile been suspended, revoked or refused?' After each question was a square followed by the word 'yes' and a second square followed by the word 'no' for use in indicating the answers. In each instance checks were inserted in the squares marked 'no.' The application contained the following statement, 'I hereby declare the facts stated herein to be true and request the Company to issue the insurance, and any renewals thereof, in reliance thereon.' The application was signed by Erma F. Springer, although it is admitted that she herself did not fill in the answers to questions 6 and 7. Appellant's evidence was that the check marks in the 'no' squares were made by appellant's agent at the time the application was made out, in accordance with statements made by Erma Springer.

The following facts have an important bearing upon questions 6 and 7 and the answers thereto. On October 5, 1951, Murl D. Springer was arrested on a charge of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, to which he pleaded guilty. His driver's license was revoked for a period of ninety days, and he became subject to the provisions of the Michigan Financial Responsibility Act for a period of three years. At that time he owned a 1949 Chevrolet automobile. In order to obtain the restoration of his driver's license, he made application to Citizens' Mutual Automobile...

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