80 N.Y. 281, Grattan v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co.

Citation:80 N.Y. 281
Party Name:PETER GRATTAN, as Executor, etc., Respondent, v. THE METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant.
Case Date:March 09, 1880
Court:New York Court of Appeals

Page 281

80 N.Y. 281

PETER GRATTAN, as Executor, etc., Respondent,

v.

THE METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant.

New York Court of Appeal

March 9, 1880

Argued Feb. 5, 1880.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

Wm. Henry Arnoux, for appellant. The finding that there was a waiver of service of proofs of death was an error of law upon the facts found. (Co. Litt., 352a; 1 Serg. & R., 444; Riply v. AEtna Ins. Co., 30 N.Y. 136; Underwood v. Farmers' J. S. I. Co., 57 Id., 500; Commonwealth Ins. Co. v. Sennett, 41 Pa. St., 161; Diehl v. Adams Co. Mut. Ins. Co., 58 Penn., 452; Beatty v. Lycoming Ins. Co., 66 Id., 9; Security Ins. Co. v. Fay, 22 Mich., 467; St. Louis Ins. Co. v. Kyle, 11 Mo., 278; Post v. AEtna Fire Ins. Co., 43 Barb., 364; Bennett v. Lycoming Ins. Co., 67 N.Y. 274; Brink v. Hanover Fire Ins. Co., 70 Id., 593; Trask v. State Fire and M. Ins. Co., 29 Penn., 198; O'Reilly v. Guardian M. L. I. Co., 60 N.Y. 169.) The defendant had the right to prove, both by lay and professional witnesses, the cause of the death of the mother of the testator, and the exclusion of such evidence was erroneous. (3 R. S. [ Edm. ed.], 397, § 10; 1 Id. [ Banks' 6th ed.], 1014, § 2; 1 Id. [ Edm. ed.], 397, § 4; Id. [ Banks' 6th ed.], 1014; 1 Id. [ id.], 1018, § 15; Edington v. AEtna Life Ins. Co., 77 N.Y. 564; Phillips on Ev., 164; Duchess of Kingston's Case, 20 How. St. Tr., 613; Abbey v. Lill, 5 Bing., 299; McKee v. Nelson, 4 Cow., 355; Cottrill v. Myrick, 3 Fairf., 222; Porter v. Poquonnoc Manufacturing Co., 17 Conn., 249; Clapp v. Fullerton, 34 N.Y. 190.) The false representation of the insured in respect to the death of the sister was a breach of the warranty. (Barteau v. Phoenix M. L. I. Co., 67 N.Y. 595; AEtna L. I. Co. v. France, 91 U.S. [ 1 Otto], 510; Anderson v. Fitzgerald, 4 H. L. C., 484; Goddard v. Monitor M. F. I. Co., 108 Mass., 56;

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State M. F. I. Co. v. Arthur, 30 Penn. St., 315.) Knowledge on the part of an agent that such statement was false does not affect the warranty. (Foote v. AEtna L. I. Co., 61 N.Y. 571; Rohrbach v. Germania F. I. Co., 62 Id., 47; Flyn v. Equitable L. I. Co., 67 Id., 500, 506; State Mut. F. I. Co. v. Arthur, 30 Penn. St., 331; Brown v. Cattaraugus Co. M. I. Co., 18 Id., 385; Alexander v. Germania F. I. Co., 66 Id., 464; Kennedy v. St. Lawrence Co. M. I. Co., 10 Barb., 285; Jennings v. Chenango Co. M. I. Co., 2 Denio, 75.) The medical examiner of the defendant was not its agent to bind it by any false statement made in his certificate. (Flynn v. Equitable L. I. Co., 67 N.Y. 500; Foote v. AEtna L. I. Co., 61 Id. 571; Mowry v. Rosendale, 74 Id., 360.) The insured having put it in the power of defendant's medical examiner to write a wrong answer as to the cause of death of his sister, should suffer the loss that might result therefrom. (Knoxville N. Bk. v. Clark, 20 Alb. L. J., 29; Redlick v. Doll, 54 N.Y. 234; Blakey v. Johnson, 13 Bush., 197; 26 Am., 254; Young v. Grote, 4 Bing., 253; Brown v. Reed, 79 Penn. St., 370; 21 Am., 75; Angle v. N.W. Ins. Co., 92 U.S. 330; Trustees v. Hill, 12 Iowa, 462; Roach v. Carr, 18 Kan., 529; 26 Am., 788; McDonald v. Muscatine Bk., 27 Iowa, 319; Armstrong v. Harshman, 61 Ind., 52; 28 Am., 665; Upton v. Tribilcock, 91 U.S. 45, 50; Lee v. Guardian L. Ins. Co., 2 Cent. L. J., 495; 5 Bigelow, L. and A. I. R., 18; Ryan v. World M. L. Ins. Co., 41 Conn., 168; 19 Am., 490; 4 Life Ins. R., 627; Smith v. Empire Ins. Co., 25 Barb., 497; Richardson v. Marine Ins. Co., 46 Mo., 394; Jackson v. Croy, 12 J. R., 227; Roach v. Karr, 26 Am., 788; Moran v. McLarty, 75 N.Y. 25; Wilson v. Conway F. Ins. Co., 4 R. I., 41.) Even if the physician could be held to be the agent of the company, the provision in the policy that no agent had authority to waive any of its conditions, and the declaration of the insured, that the answers written in the doctor's certificate were true, and according to the answers he had given would bind him. (Thayer v. Agricultural Ins. Co., 5 Hun, 566;

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Walsh v. Hartford F. Ins. Co., 73 N.Y. 5, 9.)The admission of parol evidence was illegal, as tending to vary the written contracts declared on. (Maher v. Hibernia Ins. Co., 67 N.Y. 283; Pitcher v. Hennessy, 48 Id., 415; McCall v. Sun M. Ins. Co., 66 Id., 505; Ryan v. World M. L. Ins. Co., 41 Conn., 468; Jennings v. Chenango Co. Ins. Co., 2 Den., 75; Franklin F. Ins. Co. v. Martin, 40 N. J., 568; Dewees v. Manhattan Ins. Co., 35 Id. [ 6 Vroom], 366; Atherton v. Brown, 14 Mass., 152; Wiggins v. Boardman, 14 Id., 12; McCall v. Sun M. I. Co., 66 N.Y. 505, 517; 4 Life Ins. Cas., 627; Barrett v. Union Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 7 Cush., 175; Jenkins v. Quincy Mut. Ins. Co., 7 Gray, 370; Sheldon v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 22 Conn., 235; Flinn v. Tobin, 1 Mood. & Malk., 367.) The testator fraudulently represented his occupation; the question in relation thereto referred to the time of application, and to the entire occupation. (Alexander v. Germania Fire Ins. Co., 66 N.Y. 466; Sarsfield v. Met. Ins. Co., 61 Barb., 479; State M. F. I. Co. v. Arthur, 30 Penn. St., 315; Flanders on Ins., 289; Paine v. Agricultural Ins. Co., 5 T. & C., 619; Wall v. East River M. I. Co., 7 N.Y. , 370; Parmlee v. Hoffman Fire Ins. Co., 54 Id., 186; Goddard v. Monitor M. F. Ins. Co., 108 Mass., 56; Maher v. Hibernia F. I. Co., 67 Id., 288; Ashworth v. Builders' M. F. Ins. Co., 112 Mass., 422; 17 Am., 117; Valton v. National Fund L. Ass. Co., 20 N.Y. 32; Hartman v. Keystone Co., 21 Penn., 466, 478; Bliss on Life Ins. [ 2d ed.], 174; Smith v. AEtna Life Ins. Co., 49 N.Y. 211.) The referee had no power to amend the complaint on the trial as he did. (Railway Co. v. McCarthy, 96 U.S. [ 6 Otto], 258; Gold v. Banks, 8 Wend., 563; Holbrook v. White, 24 Id., 169; Everett v. Saltus, 15 Id., 474; Wright v. Reed, 3 D. & East, 554; Duffy v. O'Donovan, 46 N.Y. 223; Winter v. Coit, 7 Id., 288; Shelton v. Adams, 41 Barb., 54; 18 Abb., 405.)

La Mott W. Rhodes, for respondent. The evidence of the doctors was properly excluded by the referee, as intended

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to disclose privileged communications and information obtained while acting in a professional capacity. (3 R. S. [ 6th ed.], 671, § 119; Code of Proc., § § 834, 836; Eddington v. Mut. Life Ins. Co., 67 N.Y. 185; Dilleber v. Home Life Ins. Co., 69 Id., 256; Cahen v. Continental Life Ins. Co., 69 Id., 308; Gratton v. Nat. Life Ins. Co., 15 Hun, 77; Pierson v. People, 13 Id., 239; Hildreth v. Shepherd, 65 Barb., 265; Wolstenholme v. Wolstenholme File Co., 3 Lans., 467; Darling v. Miller, 54 Barb., 149; 2 Wharton's Ev., § 1154.)Plaintiff was not bound to show affirmatively that every answer in his application was true; it rested with defendant to allege and prove the breach complained of. (Bliss on Life Insurance [2d ed.], 621, 622; Swick v. Home Life Ins. Co., 2 Dillon, 160; Jones v. Brooklyn Life Ins. Co. 61 N.Y. 79; Boos v. World Life Ins. Co., 4 Hun, 133; affirmed, 64 N.Y. 236; Van Valkenburg v. Am. Popular Life Ins. Co., 70 Id., 605; Piedmont and Arlington Life Ins. Co. v. Ewing, 2 Otto, 377; Gratton v. Nat. Life Ins. Co., 15 Hun, 78, 79.) The evidence shows a waiver of proofs of death as required by the policy. (Bliss on Life Insurance [2d ed.], § 278; Leslie v. Knickerbocker Life Ins. Co., 63 N.Y. 27; Dilleber v. Knickerbocker Life Ins. Co. [ Ct. Apps. MSS.], decided April 1, 1879; Johnston v. Col. Ins. Co., 7 J. R., 318; Vos v. Robinson, 9 Id., 196; Frances v. Ocean Ins. Co., 6 Cow., 415; O'Neil v. Buffalo Fire Ins. Co., 3 N.Y. , 128; AEtna Fire Ins. Co. v. Tyler, 16 Wend., 402; Hinchen v. Mut. Ben. Life Ins. Co., 6 Lans., 24; Post v. AEtna Fire Ins. Co., 43 Barb., 364; Ogden v. Marshall, 4 Seld., 340; Cornell v. Haight, 21 N.Y. 465; 3 Phillip's Ev., 100; Grant v. Johnson, 1 Seld., 252; Taylor v. Merchants' Ins. Co., 9 How. U.S. R., 390; Van Allen v. Farmers' Joint Stock Co., 10 Hun, 397; 72 N.Y. 604; Prentise v. Knickerbocker Life Ins. Co., 20 Alb. L. J., 133; Dohn v. Farmers' J. S. Ins. Co., 5 Lans., 275, 277; Sheldon v. Atlantic Ins. Co., 26 N.Y. 465; Bodine v. Exchange Fire Ins. Co., 51 Id., 117; Miller v. Eagle Life and Health Co., 2 E. D. Smith, 286, 287; Bennett, Admr., v. Maryland Fire Ins. Co.,

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19 Alb. L. J., 363; Bank of Oil City, Assignee, v. Guardian Mut. Life Ins. Co., 5 Life and Ac. Ins. R., 478; McComas v. Covenant Mut. Life Ins. Co., 56 Mo., 573; Shaw v. The Republic Life Ins Co., 69 N.Y. 286; Goodwin v. Mass. Mut. Life Ins. Co., 73 N.Y. 480.) The defendant failed to prove any breach of warranty in the contract, with reference to the cause of death of the mother and sister of the applicant. (Dilleber v. Home Life Ins. Co., 69 N.Y. 256.) Defendant is estopped from pleading or showing a breach of warranty in the contract caused solely by the false statement of its medical examiner. He was its agent. (Ames v. N.Y. Union Ins. Co., 14 N.Y. 263; Plumb v. Cattaraugus Co. Mut. Ins. Co., 18 Id., 392; Rowley v. Empire Ins. Co., 36 Id., 550; 3 Keyes, 557; Le Roy v. Park Fire Ins. Co., 39 N.Y. 58; Boos v. World Mut. Life Ins. Co., 6 N.Y.S. Ct. [ T. & C.], 368; 64 N.Y. 236; Pierce v. Nashua Mut. Life Ins. Co., 9 Am. R., 240; Merserau v. Phoenix Mut. Life Ins. Co., 66 N.Y. 278; Baker v. Home Life Ins. Co., 64 Id., 648; Life Ins. Co. v. Wilkinson, 13 Wall., 222; The Am. Ins. Co. v. Mahone, 21 Id., 152; Taylor v. Mut. Ben. Life Ins. Co., 10 Hun, 52; Higgins v. Phoenix Life Ins. Co., 10 Id., 461; affi'd by Ct. of App., Mar. 21, 1878; N. J. Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Baker, 94 U.S. S. C. R. [ 4 Otto], 610; Mowry v. Rosendale, Recr., W. Mut. Ins. Co., 74 N.Y. 360; Maher v. Hibernia Ins. Co., 67 Id., 283; Goodwin v. Mass. Mut. Ins. Co., 73 Id., 480; Pitney v. Glens Falls Ins. Co., 65 Id., 6; Pechner v. Phoenix Ins. Co., Id., 195; Eddington v. AEtna Life Ins. Co. [ Ct. App. MSS.], 77 Id., 564; Boos v. World Mut. Life Ins. Co., 64 Id., 236; Baker v. Home Life Ins. Co., 64 Id., 648; Higgins v....

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