311 U.S. 464 (1940), 74, Stoner v. New York Life Insurance Co.

Docket Nº:No. 74
Citation:311 U.S. 464, 61 S.Ct. 336, 85 L.Ed. 284
Party Name:Stoner v. New York Life Insurance Co.
Case Date:December 23, 1940
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 464

311 U.S. 464 (1940)

61 S.Ct. 336, 85 L.Ed. 284

Stoner

v.

New York Life Insurance Co.

No. 74

United States Supreme Court

Dec. 23, 1940

Argued November 13, 1940

CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

In suits against an insurer upon policies providing for payment of benefits and waiver of premiums in the event of the insured's "total disability," an intermediate appellate court of Missouri had held that the evidence for the insured was sufficient to go to the jury. Subsequently, the insurer sued the insured in a federal court in that State for a declaratory judgment that it was no longer obliged to pay disability benefits or to waive payment of premiums. In this suit, the parties were the same as in the earlier suits in the state courts, the issues were identical, and the evidence consisted of a transcript of the evidence in one of the state court suits, supplemented only by additional items introduced by, and favorable to, the insured. The suit was tried without a jury, and judgment was for the insured.

Held:

1. Reversal by the Circuit Court of Appeals, with direction to enter a declaratory judgment for the insurer, was erroneous. P. 467.

2. The decision of the Circuit Court of Appeals, determining in effect that the evidence on the issue of total disability required a finding

Page 465

for the insurer, was inconsistent with the state law as announced by the intermediate appellate court of the State, and the Circuit Court of Appeals was bound to follow the state law as thus announced, since there is no indication that it would not be followed in like case by the intermediate appellate court of the State or by the state supreme court. P. 468.

3. That, in the earlier suits, the burden was on the insured to prove disability, while here the Courts below assumed that the burden was on the insurer to show that disability no longer existed, is immaterial. P. 469.

4. The requisite jurisdictional amount was involved, for it was exceeded by the sum of the benefit payment and the premiums in controversy. P. 469.

109 F.2d 874 reversed.

Certiorari, post, p. 628, to review the reversal of a judgment against the insurance company in a suit involving the question of its liability upon disability provisions of contracts of life insurance.

MURPHY, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE MURPHY delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondent insurance company brought this suit in the federal district court for a declaratory judgment that it was no longer obligated to make disability payments to petitioner or to waive payment of premiums under the total disability clauses of insurance policies issued to petitioner prior to 1931. The question is whether the Circuit Court of Appeals should have followed two decisions of the Kansas City Court of Appeals in earlier suits between the same parties.

In June, 1931, petitioner fell and seriously injured his left ankle. The injury is permanent. For about two

Page 466

years after the injury, respondent paid petitioner the total disability benefits and waived premiums. In October, 1933, it notified him that it intended to cease benefit payments and waiver of premiums because it no longer considered him totally disabled.

In April, 1934, petitioner brought suit in a Missouri state court for the disability payments allegedly due and unpaid at that time. From a verdict and judgment for respondent, he appealed to the Kansas City Court of Appeals, an intermediate state appellate court. That court held that petitioner's evidence was sufficient to take the case to the jury and that the trial judge erred in giving certain instructions. It reversed and remanded the case for a new trial. 90 S.W.2d 784. Respondent thereupon sought a writ of certiorari from the Missouri Supreme Court, but was unsuccessful. In consequence, the action is still pending, but has not yet been retried.

In June, 1936, after remand of the first case, petitioner instituted two more actions, also in Missouri state courts, to recover disability benefits which allegedly had accrued since commencement of the first suit. One action was tried, and this time petitioner secured verdict and judgment from which respondent appealed. The Kansas City Court of Appeals again reversed because of error in the instructions, although it held that petitioner's evidence presented a case for the jury. It remanded the action for a new trial. 232 Mo.App. 1048, 114 S.W.2d 167. Both of these actions also are pending trial.

At this juncture, respondent, a New York corporation, started the present suit against petitioner, a resident of Missouri, in the District Court for the Western District of Missouri. It sought a declaratory judgment that...

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229 practice notes
  • 136 F.Supp. 229 (E.D.Ill. 1955), Civ. A. 2173, Kingwood Oil Co. v. Bell
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 7th Circuit
    • September 8, 1955
    ...appellate courts, unless there is persuasive evidence that the higher court would rule otherwise. Stoner v. New York Life Ins. Co., 311 U.S. 464, 467, 61 S.Ct. 336, 85 L.Ed. 284; Preston v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 7 Cir., 174 F.2d 10, [9] 'An implied intention is one necessarily arising from l......
  • 160 F.2d 775 (5th Cir. 1947), 11764, General Acc. Fire & Life Assur. Corp. v. Schero
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • April 16, 1947
    ...Accident Fire & Life Assurance Corp., Ltd., v. Schero, et al., 5 Cir., 1945, 151 F.2d 825. [2] Stoner v. New York Life Ins. Co., 311 U.S. 464, 61 S.Ct. 336, 85 L.Ed. 284. [3] 5 Cir., 1944, 143 F.2d 726, 731, 732. [4] Hughes v. Miami Coca Cola Bottling Co., 1944, 155 Fla. 299, 19 So.2d 8......
  • 240 B.R. 70 (Bkrtcy.N.D.Ala. 1999), 95-71118-TBB-7, In re Robinson
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Eleventh Circuit
    • September 29, 1999
    ...rule otherwise. See Comm'r of Internal Revenue v. Bosch, 387 U.S. 456, 87 S.Ct. 1776, 18 L.Ed.2d 886 (1967); Stoner v. N.Y. Life Ins. Co., 311 U.S. 464, 61 S.Ct. 336, 85 L.Ed. 284 (1940); West v. Am. Telephone & Telegraph Co., 311 U.S. 223, 61 S.Ct. 179, 85 L.Ed. 139 (1940); CSX Transp.......
  • 698 F.2d 1022 (9th Cir. 1983), 81-5830, Fleury v. Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    • February 9, 1983
    ...in the absence of convincing evidence that the highest court of the state would decide differently. Stoner v. New York Life Ins. Co., 311 U.S. 464, 61 S.Ct. 336, 85 L.Ed. 284 (1940); American Triticale, Inc. v. Nytco Services Co., 664 F.2d 1136 (9th Cir.1981). The Fleurys' libel claim is ba......
  • Free signup to view additional results
226 cases
  • 136 F.Supp. 229 (E.D.Ill. 1955), Civ. A. 2173, Kingwood Oil Co. v. Bell
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 7th Circuit
    • September 8, 1955
    ...appellate courts, unless there is persuasive evidence that the higher court would rule otherwise. Stoner v. New York Life Ins. Co., 311 U.S. 464, 467, 61 S.Ct. 336, 85 L.Ed. 284; Preston v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 7 Cir., 174 F.2d 10, [9] 'An implied intention is one necessarily arising from l......
  • 160 F.2d 775 (5th Cir. 1947), 11764, General Acc. Fire & Life Assur. Corp. v. Schero
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • April 16, 1947
    ...Accident Fire & Life Assurance Corp., Ltd., v. Schero, et al., 5 Cir., 1945, 151 F.2d 825. [2] Stoner v. New York Life Ins. Co., 311 U.S. 464, 61 S.Ct. 336, 85 L.Ed. 284. [3] 5 Cir., 1944, 143 F.2d 726, 731, 732. [4] Hughes v. Miami Coca Cola Bottling Co., 1944, 155 Fla. 299, 19 So.2d 8......
  • 240 B.R. 70 (Bkrtcy.N.D.Ala. 1999), 95-71118-TBB-7, In re Robinson
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Eleventh Circuit
    • September 29, 1999
    ...rule otherwise. See Comm'r of Internal Revenue v. Bosch, 387 U.S. 456, 87 S.Ct. 1776, 18 L.Ed.2d 886 (1967); Stoner v. N.Y. Life Ins. Co., 311 U.S. 464, 61 S.Ct. 336, 85 L.Ed. 284 (1940); West v. Am. Telephone & Telegraph Co., 311 U.S. 223, 61 S.Ct. 179, 85 L.Ed. 139 (1940); CSX Transp.......
  • 698 F.2d 1022 (9th Cir. 1983), 81-5830, Fleury v. Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    • February 9, 1983
    ...in the absence of convincing evidence that the highest court of the state would decide differently. Stoner v. New York Life Ins. Co., 311 U.S. 464, 61 S.Ct. 336, 85 L.Ed. 284 (1940); American Triticale, Inc. v. Nytco Services Co., 664 F.2d 1136 (9th Cir.1981). The Fleurys' libel claim is ba......
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