Brotherhood of Railway & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees v. Riggins

Decision Date10 December 1925
Docket Number6 Div. 527
Citation214 Ala. 79,107 So. 44
PartiesBROTHERHOOD OF RAILWAY & STEAMSHIP CLERKS, FREIGHT HANDLERS, EXPRESS & STATION EMPLOYEES v. RIGGINS.
CourtAlabama Supreme Court

Certiorari to Court of Appeals.

Petition of the Brotherhood of Railway & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees for certiorari to the Court of Appeals to review the judgment and decision of that court in Brotherhood, etc., v. Riggins, 107 So. 43. Writ granted.

Nesbit & Sadler and Evans Dunn, all of Birmingham, for petitioner.

Barber & Barber, of Birmingham, opposed.

GARDNER J.

Petition for writ of certiorari to review the ruling of the Court of Appeals in affirming a judgment against petitioner in favor of Blanton Riggins in a suit on a death benefit certificate issued on the life of Roy Riggins in which said Blanton Riggins, the father of insured, was named the beneficiary.

The only question presented was the action of the trial court in refusing the general affirmative charge requested by the defendant.

The defendant (to so designate petitioner here) is a fraternal organization, and issued death benefit certificates to its members. Roy Riggins, a member of the order, made due application in writing to the death benefit department for the issuance of such certificate. In this application, in answer to the inquiry, he stated that his general health was good, and it was agreed therein that all statements and answers contained in the application shall form a part of the contract between the applicant and the death benefit department, and "are hereby warranted to be true, and that the certificate issued thereon is to be accepted upon the condition that, if any of the answers are untrue, then such certificate shall be null and void, and membership in the said death benefit department, together with all right to any benefit therein, shall be forfeited."

The certificate of insurance issued refers to the application and discloses that it was issued upon the statements and warranties therein contained. The defendant being a fraternal organization, its contract did not come within the influence of section 8371, Code 1923 (section 4579, Code 1907), and hence the requirement of said section, that all matters as to such contracts shall be plainly expressed in the policy issued, is without application. Supreme Ruler, etc., v Darwin, 79 So. 259, 201 Ala. 687. It was without dispute that, at the time of the application for insurance, and for a long time prior thereto, the insured was suffering from tuberculosis of the spine, and had been under treatment for that disease, and that such affliction was a disease which adversely affected a person as an insurance risk.

It is insisted that the statement in the application that insured's general health was good constituted, under the undisputed proof, a breach of warranty rendering the policy void. It is not seriously questioned that this statement under all the circumstances here shown, constituted a warranty and not merely a representation. Kelly v. Life Ins., etc., Co., 21 So. 361, 113 Ala. 453; Empire Life Ins. Co. v. Gee, 55 So. 166, 171 Ala. 435; Ala. G.L. Ins. Co. v. Johnston, 2 So. 125, 80 Ala. 467, 59 Am.Rep. 816; Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Mandelbaum, 92 So. 440, 207 Ala. 234, 29 A.L.R. 649; Travelers' Ins. Co. v. Whitman, 80 So. 470, 202 Ala. 388; 3 Joyce on Ins. § 1942 et seq.

To relieve against the hardship arising from strict enforcement of the common law as to warranties, section 8507 of the Code of 1923 was enacted, applicable to insurance in organizations of this character, just as section 8364, Code of 1923 applies to the ordinary insurance...

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