758 F.2d 50 (2nd Cir. 1985), 595, Fine v. Bellefonte Underwriters Ins. Co.

Docket Nº:595, Docket 84-7600.
Citation:758 F.2d 50
Party Name:Martin FINE, William Becker and Philip Becker, Individually, and William Becker and Philip Becker d/b/a Becker & Becker, all doing business as 649 Broadway Equities Co., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. BELLEFONTE UNDERWRITERS INSURANCE CO., Citibank, N.A., and Johana Zuckerman, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:March 20, 1985
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
 
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Page 50

758 F.2d 50 (2nd Cir. 1985)

Martin FINE, William Becker and Philip Becker, Individually,

and William Becker and Philip Becker d/b/a Becker

& Becker, all doing business as 649

Broadway Equities Co.,

Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

BELLEFONTE UNDERWRITERS INSURANCE CO., Citibank, N.A., and

Johana Zuckerman, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 595, Docket 84-7600.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

March 20, 1985

Argued Jan. 14, 1985.

Whitney North Seymour, Jr., New York City (Claude P. Bordwine, Brown & Seymour, Weg & Myers, P.C., New York City, of counsel), for plaintiffs-appellants.

Herbert P. Polk, New York City (Robert S. Newman, Whitman & Ransom, New York City, of counsel), for defendant-appellee.

Before OAKES, CARDAMONE and PIERCE, Circuit Judges.

Page 51

CARDAMONE, Circuit Judge:

On this appeal we must weigh the policy that seeks the final repose of litigation against a claim that this Court incorrectly decided a particular case. Appellants urge that this panel review and reverse what they claim is an incorrect determination of a previous panel. It is not inconceivable that on occasion a judgment of this Court may be in error. No proof is required to demonstrate the fallibility of this or any Court. Nonetheless, the rules of appellate procedure are specifically designed to catch those instances when a panel misapprehends or overlooks some point of law or fact. The rules are meant to assure a party on appeal that its argument has been comprehended and considered by the Court. If we ignore these established procedures in an attempt to remedy a perceived error, we will throw a wrench into the collegial workings of our Court that are essential to its institutional integrity.

I

After fire destroyed several New York City buildings owned by plaintiffs-appellants Martin Fine, William Becker and Philip Becker, d/b/a 649 Broadway Equities Co., they made claim under their fire insurance policies written by defendant-appellee, Bellafonte Underwriters Insurance Co. At a deposition conducted in connection with the claim some of the questions asked of appellants concerned the sprinkler system, which had failed to function and hence did not check the spread of the fire. Appellants' answers to the question were false. In particular, appellants were queried about the instructions given regarding thermostat settings for the furnace and inspection and maintenance of the system. Martin Fine, one of the owners, and George Peters, an agent for the owners, both testified that the nighttime thermostat setting for the furnace had been 40 degrees. After its investigation the fire insurance underwriter concluded that the owners had instructed the building superintendent to reduce the thermostat's nighttime setting so that the furnace would not turn on until the outside temperature was below 25 degrees. Appellee therefore concluded that appellants had falsely answered a material question and refused to pay the fire claim.

Appellants then instituted this diversity action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Sweet, J.). Although the trial court characterized appellants' statements as "mistaken" or "inaccurate and consequently false," it nonetheless found that the statements were not material because the lower thermostat setting was not responsible for the fire loss incurred during the near-zero...

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