Britton v. John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co., Docket No. 8013

Decision Date17 February 1971
Docket NumberDocket No. 8013,No. 1,1
Citation30 Mich.App. 566,186 N.W.2d 781
PartiesHerbert BRITTON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. JOHN HANCOCK MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, a foreign corporation, Defendant-Appellee
CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan — District of US

Ronald D. Glotta, Detroit, for plaintiff-appellant.

Thomas E. Owen, Detroit, for defendant-appellee.

Before DANHOF, P.J., and V. J. BRENNAN and KELLEY *, JJ.

KELLEY, Judge.

As partial return for work rendered to his employer the plaintiff-appellant employee received the benefits of a group policy of insurance which required that to

'* * * any * * * employee * * * wholly and continuously disabled * * * and * * * thereby prevented from performing any and every duty of his occupation, the Company shall pay * * * a weekly benefit * * * for the period of such disability but not exceeding fifty-two weeks for any one continuous period of disability * * * one continuous period of disability shall include successive periods of disability due to the same or related cause which are separated by * * * less than Seven working days if weekley benefits were payable for any part of the previous period of disability.' (Emphasis supplied.)

To explain to employees the meaning of the insurance contract, defendant insurance company prepared and distributed a pamphlet which did not contain the word 'consecutive':

'You can make a claim for benefits if an old accident or illness disables you again, provided you have been back to work Seven working days or more * * *' (Emphasis supplied.)

Over a period exceeding 18 months, from May 2, 1967, to November 18, 1968, the employee did not work due to disability, except that in November 1967, he worked 3 days in a row, was off a day due to disability for which he received no benefits, and then worked the next 5 1/2 days.

Defendant-appellee insurance company refused to pay benefits beyond 52 weeks on the sole basis that even though the word 'consecutive' does not appear in the pertinent portion of the policy, the phrase 'seven working days' should be read as 'seven Consecutive working days'. If the policy is read as written the employee is entitled to another 26 weeks of benefits; if read as the insurance company asks, he is entitled to nothing further. The insurance company advances various arguments for its claim, none of which has any merit.

One such argument is that by working only one day a month over a period of seven months the employee could establish a new period of disability every seven months. Basically this argument overlooks the fact that the clear, unequivocal language chosen by the insurance company and delivered to the employee...

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14 cases
  • In re Mcinerney
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Eastern District of Michigan
    • October 17, 2013
    ...See, e.g., United Rentals (North America) Inc. v. Keizer, 355 F.3d 399, 407 (6th Cir.2004) (quoting Britton v. John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co., 30 Mich.App. 566, 186 N.W.2d 781, 782 (1971)); see also Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. of Michigan v. Nikkel, 460 Mich. 558, 596 N.W.2d 915, 919 (1999) ......
  • Cochran v. Ernst & Young
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Michigan
    • March 20, 1991
    ...Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co. v. Chicago & Northern Western Transp. Co., 581 F.Supp. 1144 (W.D.Mich. 1984); Britton v. John Hancock Mut. Ins. Co., 30 Mich.App. 566, 186 N.W.2d 781 (1971); Barner v. City of Lansing, 27 Mich.App. 669, 183 N.W.2d 877 (1970). If the contract terms are not ambiguous......
  • In re Plastech Engineered Products, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Eastern District of Michigan
    • February 19, 2008
    ...See, e.g., United Rentals (North America) Inc. v. Keizer, 355 F.3d 399, 407 (6th Cir.2004) (quoting Britton v. John Hancock Mutual Life Ins. Co., 30 Mich.App. 566, 186 N.W.2d 781, 782 (1971)); see also Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. of Michigan v. Nikkei, 460 Mich. 558, 596 N.W.2d 915, 91......
  • Emmons v. Easter
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan — District of US
    • June 23, 1975
    ...is that, if unambiguous, they are not subject to interpretation and must be enforced as written. Britton v. John Hancock Mutual Life Ins. Co., 30 Mich.App. 566, 186 N.W.2d 781 (1971), Barner v. City of Lansing, 27 Mich.App. 669, 183 N.W.2d 877 (1970). At the time of repossession and foreclo......
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