Eminent Household of Columbian Woodmen v. Gallant

Decision Date14 October 1915
Docket Number725
Citation194 Ala. 680,69 So. 884
CourtAlabama Supreme Court

Appeal from Circuit Court, Etowah County; J.E. Blackwood, Judge.

Action by J.A. Gallant as administrator of the estate of William H Lee, deceased, against the Eminent Household of Columbian Woodmen, upon a benevolent covenant or life policy. Judgment for plaintiff and defendant appeals. Affirmed.

The complaint is as follows:

"Plaintiff, who sues as administrator of the estate of William H. Lee, deceased, claims of defendant $2,000, due on a policy, whereby defendant, on August 17, 1909, insured for a term of five years, or for life, the life of William H Lee, who died on January 12, 1914, of which defendant has had notice. Said policy is the property of plaintiff."

McCord & Davis, of Gadsden, for appellant.

Hood &amp Murphree, of Gadsden, for appellee.


While the Code form for a complaint upon life insurance policies is brief and simple, it requires that the period covered by the policy and the date of death be set out, in order that it may show that death occurred pending the life of the policy. U.S. Company v. Veitch, 161 Ala. 630, 50 So. 95; Pence v. Mutual Benefit Co., 180 Ala. 583,

61 So. 817. The complaint here substantially follows the Code form, but charges in the alternative that the policy was for five years or for life, and gives the date of the death of the insured during the five years after the issuance of the policy. It therefore showed that the policy was in existence when the insured died. It may have been bad for being in the alternative and for not being definite as to the one or the other, but this particular defect was not pointed out by the defendant's demurrer.

The defendant interposed many special pleas, which may be grouped into two classes: First, misrepresentations and warranties in procuring the policy; and, second, conduct or habits of the insured in violation of the constitution and by-laws of the order, and which would operate as a forfeiture by him of the insurance. The pleas under the first class, to which demurrers were sustained, were defective, as those which set up that the defendant was a "secret benevolent" order, so as to except the contract from the influence of section 4572 under the terms of section 4562 of the Code of 1907, failed to show a forfeiture under the terms of the policy as provided by the constitution and by-laws, or, if any of them did, the defendant got the benefit of same under pleas to which no demurrer was sustained. On the other hand those of the first class which set up a sufficient forfeiture under the constitution and by-laws did not show that the defendant was a "secret benevolent" order...

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