300 U.S. 435 (1937), 599, Stroehmann v. Mutual Life Ins. Co. of New York

Docket Nº:No. 599
Citation:300 U.S. 435, 57 S.Ct. 607, 81 L.Ed. 732
Party Name:Stroehmann v. Mutual Life Ins. Co. of New York
Case Date:March 29, 1937
Court:United States Supreme Court

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300 U.S. 435 (1937)

57 S.Ct. 607, 81 L.Ed. 732



Mutual Life Ins. Co. of New York

No. 599

United States Supreme Court

March 29, 1937

Argued March 11, 1937




Where, from the language of a policy of life insurance, it is doubtful whether provisions for disability benefits were excepted from the "incontestable" clause, the doubt will be resolved in favor of the insured. Pp. 439-440.

6 F.2d 47 reversed.

District Court affirmed.

Certiorari, post, p. 646, to review a decree reversing a decree dismissing the bill. The suit was by the insurance company to cancel the disability benefits provisions of a policy upon the ground of fraud, alleged to have been practiced by the insured in obtaining the insurance. The District Court at first refused to dismiss the bill, 6 F.Supp. 953, but later ruled the other way when the motion was renewed after the bill had been amended.

MCREYNOLDS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

By a policy dated June 30, 1930, respondent insurance company, a New York corporation, agreed to pay the

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named beneficiary $40,000 upon death of Carl F. Stroehmann, the insured. Or to pay $80,000 if his death results from accidental bodily injury,

all upon the conditions set forth in Section 1. . . . And if the Insured is totally and presumably permanently disabled before age 60, will pay to the Insured $400.00 monthly during such disability, increasing after five and ten years continuous disability, besides waiving premium payments, all upon the conditions set forth in Section 3.

The policy is a long and complicated document. It incorporates the application and the medical examiner's report.

[57 S.Ct. 608] Section 1 (two printed pages) relates to the "Double Indemnity" obligation. It defines the injury to which the insurance applies, specifies the necessary proof, optional modes of settlement, etc.

Section 3 -- "Benefits in Event of Total and Permanent Disability before Age 60," is in the margin. * It defines

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total and permanent disability; states when benefits will become effective; what they shall be; when premiums will be waived. Also specifies what will be considered permanent disability, when proofs may be demanded, etc.

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And provides:

Disability Benefits shall not be granted if disability is the result of self-inflicted injury. The provision for Disability Benefits shall automatically terminate if the Insured shall at any time, voluntarily or involuntarily, engage in military or naval service in time of war outside of the continental limits of the United States of America and the Dominion of Canada.

Other provisions relate to...

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