Mass. v. Cronin., No. 206.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
Writing for the CourtWACHENFELD, Justice.
Citation51 A.2d 2
PartiesJOHN HANCOCK MUT. LIFE INS. CO. OF BOSTON, MASS., v. CRONIN.
Docket NumberNo. 206.
Decision Date03 February 1947

51 A.2d 2

JOHN HANCOCK MUT. LIFE INS. CO. OF BOSTON, MASS.,
v.
CRONIN.

No. 206.

Court of Errors and Appeals of New Jersey.

Feb. 3, 1947.


Appeal from Court of Chancery.

Suit by the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company of Boston, Massachusetts, against Noreen Cronin for rescission of a life policy in which defendant filed a counterclaim to reform insured's application for, and recover the amount of, the policy. From a decree for defendant, 137 N.J.Eq. 586, 46 A.2d 71, complainant appeals.

Reversed.

PARKER, Justice, and DILL, Judge, dissenting.

51 A.2d 3

Nugent & Rollenhagen, of Jersey City (John P. Nugent, of Jersey City, of counsel), for complainant-appellant.

Milton, McNulty & Augelli, of Jersey City (Joseph Keane and Walter E. McInerney, both of Jersey City, of counsel), for defendant-respondent.

WACHENFELD, Justice.

A life insurance policy of $10,000 was issued by the appellant. The beneficiary widow, the respondent in this case, instituted an action at law after the death of her husband to recover the amount due on the policy in question. The Company filed an answer and counterclaim alleging misrepresentation. It then filed the present bill of complaint restraining the action at law and asking for a rescission of the contract, having tendered to the widow a return of the premiums paid.

Application for the insurance policy was made on December 5, 1941 and the policy was issued on January 22, 1942 although it was dated December 5, 1941. The first premium was paid on the same date, to wit, and the date of the application. The insured died on September 27, 1943, one year and ten months after the issuance of the policy. The opinion below found that he died of coronary thrombosis while the death certificate introduced in evidence recites:

‘Immediate cause of death:

Coronary Thrombosis? ?

Acute cardiac dilatation

Over exertion and

extreme nervousness'

The appellant contends the decedent in his application for insurance misrepresented material facts. They may briefly be set forth as follows: (1) decedent indulged in intoxicants while his application says that he did not; (2) he had been treated by a doctor within five years prior to the date of the application, which was denied in his application; (3) he had been in a hospital for treatment within the same period of time, while his application says that he had not been under treatment within this period of time.

The answer to the bill denies the misrepresentations and asserts the insurance company had knowledge of the actual facts, notwithstanding the application, and that no fraud existed because the appellant did not rely upon the misrepresentations but based its action upon an independent investigation. The full information the company obtained in this independent investigation is covered in a report dated December 17, 1941 known as the O'Hanlon report.

The issues arise as follows: the application shows (1) the decedent to have been a stock broker while the O'Hanlon report shows the decedent to have been unemployed; (2) that the decedent did not drink while the O'Hanlon report discloses he did drink, saying that he was a moderate indulger and took an ‘occasional high ball’; (3) that in answer to Question 17 ‘Have you consulted or been treated by a physician or other practitioner during the past five years?’ the insured answered ‘No’; and in answer to Question 18 ‘Have you ever received, or applied for treatment at, or attended, any hospital, dispensary, sanitarium, cure, or other institution?’ the insured replied ‘Yes.’ The application then provides if the answer to any of the above questions is ‘Yes' ‘specify every illness * * * operation, with dates, duration, severity, results, the names and addresses

51 A.2d 4

of any physicians or other practitioners, and hospitals, etc.,’ to which the applicant replied ‘Appendectomy 1924, Dr. McLoughlin St. Francis Hosp.’

The first two points are immaterial and of no consequence. As to the third, the O'Hanlon report discloses an investigation was made of the decedent's past medical history which showed the past health history included the appendectomy ‘over 15 years ago’ and the fact that a brother of the applicant had tuberculosis, which was also stated in the application made. The O'Hanlon report also has the following inquiry: ‘Do you regard applicant as a desirable life insurance risk?’ and the report answers ‘Yes-remarks.’

As contrasted with this situation, the proof shows the insured was attended by a Dr. Frank J. McLoughlin on April 2, 6 and 30, 1940, December 3, 4 and 5, 1940 and January 17, 1942. The insured suffered, according to this doctor's testimony, from a mild form of stomach trouble...

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24 practice notes
  • In re Tri-State Armored Services, Inc., Bankruptcy No. 01-11917/JHW.
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of New Jersey
    • October 3, 2005
    ...place upon the insurer the duty of further inquiry. Id. (quoting John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co. of Boston v. Cronin, 139 N.J.Eq. 392, 398, 51 A.2d 2, 5 (E & A 1947)). Where the falsity of the applicant's representations is not known by the insurer when the policy is issued, but where t......
  • United Jersey Bank v. Wolosoff
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • October 22, 1984
    ...Enterprises, Inc. v. United Jersey Bank, supra at 251, 459 A.2d 1201. See also John Hancock & Co. v. Cronin, 139 N.J.Eq. 392, 397, 398, 51 A.2d 2 (E & A 1947); Froehlich v. Walden, 66 N.J.Super. 390, 395, 169 A.2d 204 (Ch.Div.1961). On the other hand, our Supreme Court recently obse......
  • Fidelity & Deposit Co. of Md. v. Hudson United Bank, Civ. A. No. 78-357.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • June 23, 1980
    ...a nature as to place upon the insurer the duty of further inquiry." John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Cronin, 139 N.J.Eq. 392 at 398, 51 A.2d 2 at 5. . . . In determining whether this impressed Metropolitan with a duty of further inquiry, one factor to be considered is what avenues of......
  • In re Tri-State Armored Services, Inc., Civ.A. No. 06-2226 (JEI).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • April 23, 2007
    ...truthfulness of the information in the application. See, e.g., John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co. of Boston v. Cronin, 139 N.J.Eq. 392, 398, 51 A.2d 2 (E. & A.1947) (insurer who knew that applicant misrepresented certain medical history information on his application and did no further inv......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • In re Tri-State Armored Services, Inc., Bankruptcy No. 01-11917/JHW.
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of New Jersey
    • October 3, 2005
    ...place upon the insurer the duty of further inquiry. Id. (quoting John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co. of Boston v. Cronin, 139 N.J.Eq. 392, 398, 51 A.2d 2, 5 (E & A 1947)). Where the falsity of the applicant's representations is not known by the insurer when the policy is issued, but where t......
  • United Jersey Bank v. Wolosoff
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • October 22, 1984
    ...Enterprises, Inc. v. United Jersey Bank, supra at 251, 459 A.2d 1201. See also John Hancock & Co. v. Cronin, 139 N.J.Eq. 392, 397, 398, 51 A.2d 2 (E & A 1947); Froehlich v. Walden, 66 N.J.Super. 390, 395, 169 A.2d 204 (Ch.Div.1961). On the other hand, our Supreme Court recently obse......
  • Fidelity & Deposit Co. of Md. v. Hudson United Bank, Civ. A. No. 78-357.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • June 23, 1980
    ...a nature as to place upon the insurer the duty of further inquiry." John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Cronin, 139 N.J.Eq. 392 at 398, 51 A.2d 2 at 5. . . . In determining whether this impressed Metropolitan with a duty of further inquiry, one factor to be considered is what avenues of......
  • In re Tri-State Armored Services, Inc., Civ.A. No. 06-2226 (JEI).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • April 23, 2007
    ...truthfulness of the information in the application. See, e.g., John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co. of Boston v. Cronin, 139 N.J.Eq. 392, 398, 51 A.2d 2 (E. & A.1947) (insurer who knew that applicant misrepresented certain medical history information on his application and did no further inv......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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