Milam v. Norwich Union Indem. Co, (No. 6476.)

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtHATCHER, J
Citation149 S.E. 668
PartiesMILAM. v. NORWICH UNION INDEMNITY CO.
Docket Number(No. 6476.)
Decision Date17 September 1929

149 S.E. 668

MILAM.
v.
NORWICH UNION INDEMNITY CO.

(No. 6476.)

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

Sept. 17, 1929.


(Syllabus by the Court.)
[149 S.E. 669]

Appeal from Circuit Court, Raleigh County.

Suit by W. K. Milam, revived in the name of Chessie Fay Milam, administratrix, against the Norwich Union Indemnity Company. From an adverse judgment, plaintiff brings error. Reversed, and new trial granted.

David D. Ashworth and Clay S. Grouse, both of Beckley, for plaintiff in error.

File, Goldsmith & Scherer, of Beckley, for defendant in error.

HATCHER, J. A health and accident policy issued by defendant to W. K. Milam, a coal miner, agreed to pay him a certain sum per month in case he was wholly and continuously disabled by reason of "sickness contracted during the term of the policy." He was asked no questions and made no statement relative to his health when the policy was issued. He had been under medical treatment for Bright's disease for a year or so before that time. It seems that this malady is incurable, but no element of bad faith is charged to Milam in obtaining the policy. He had purchased an automobile on the installment plan, and the policy was an incident of that purchase. Prior thereto his trouble had not interrupted his work, and his physician had apprised him that if he would avoid exposure, wear suitable clothing, and eat proper food, "he would probably live for years and years, maybe live to be an old man." Shortly after securing the policy, he was stricken down by the disease and it later caused his death.

This is a suit to recover the sick benefits provided by the policy. The circuit court directed a verdict in favor of defendant on the theory that the sickness for which recovery is sought was contracted before the policy was issued.

There are two lines of decisions bearing on clauses similar to that under consideration. One line advocates a strict construction, the other a liberal construction. The cases cited by the defendant giving a strict construction are not persuasive on this court, as we are committed to the doctrine that insurance policies should be construed most liberally in favor of the insured. Tucker v. Ins. Co., 58 W. Va. 30, 51 S. E. 86 J Cook v. Insurance Co., 105 W. Va. 375, 376, 143 S. E. 113. The fact that Milam was asked no questions about his health, and that his condition prior to the date of the policy is not referred to therein, demonstrates that the insurer was not concerned about latent or remote...

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20 practice notes
  • World Insurance Company of Omaha, Nebraska v. Pipes, No. 16915.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 9, 1958
    ...nephritis has three stages: (1) acute, (2) sub-acute, (3) chronic. In Milan v. Norwich Union Indemnity Co., 1929, 107 W.Va. 574, 149 S.E. 668, 669, an insured was suffering from nephritis at the time he took out a health and accident policy. The policy covered "sickness contracted duri......
  • Leftwich v. Inter-ocean Cas. Co, No. 9190.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • October 28, 1941
    ...from the performance of his usual duties prior to February 16, 1940. As stated in Milam v. Norwich Union Indemnity Co., 107 W.Va. 574, 149 S.E. 668, 669: "One is not ordinarily considered sick who performs his usual occupation, though some organ of the body may be affected; he is regar......
  • Murray Hosp. v. Angrove, No. 6910.
    • United States
    • April 23, 1932
    ...648;Manhattan Life Ins. Co. v. Francisco, 84 U. S. (17 Wall.) 672, 21 L. Ed. 698;Milam v. Norwich Union Indemnity Co., 107 W. Va. 574, 149 S. E. 668. The dictionary on which plaintiff relies gives “ailment” as a synonym of sickness, and “affection” as a synonym of ailment, and the applicabl......
  • Leftwich v. Inter-Ocean Cas. Co., (No. 9190)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • October 28, 1941
    ...incapacitated from the performance of his usual duties prior to February 16, 1940. As stated in Milam v. Indemnity Co., 107 W. Va. 574, 149 S. E. 668: "One is not ordinarily considered sick who performs his usual occupation though some organ of the body may be affected; [123 W.Va. 583]......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
20 cases
  • World Insurance Company of Omaha, Nebraska v. Pipes, No. 16915.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 9, 1958
    ...nephritis has three stages: (1) acute, (2) sub-acute, (3) chronic. In Milan v. Norwich Union Indemnity Co., 1929, 107 W.Va. 574, 149 S.E. 668, 669, an insured was suffering from nephritis at the time he took out a health and accident policy. The policy covered "sickness contracted duri......
  • Leftwich v. Inter-ocean Cas. Co, No. 9190.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • October 28, 1941
    ...from the performance of his usual duties prior to February 16, 1940. As stated in Milam v. Norwich Union Indemnity Co., 107 W.Va. 574, 149 S.E. 668, 669: "One is not ordinarily considered sick who performs his usual occupation, though some organ of the body may be affected; he is regar......
  • Murray Hosp. v. Angrove, No. 6910.
    • United States
    • April 23, 1932
    ...648;Manhattan Life Ins. Co. v. Francisco, 84 U. S. (17 Wall.) 672, 21 L. Ed. 698;Milam v. Norwich Union Indemnity Co., 107 W. Va. 574, 149 S. E. 668. The dictionary on which plaintiff relies gives “ailment” as a synonym of sickness, and “affection” as a synonym of ailment, and the applicabl......
  • Leftwich v. Inter-Ocean Cas. Co., (No. 9190)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • October 28, 1941
    ...incapacitated from the performance of his usual duties prior to February 16, 1940. As stated in Milam v. Indemnity Co., 107 W. Va. 574, 149 S. E. 668: "One is not ordinarily considered sick who performs his usual occupation though some organ of the body may be affected; [123 W.Va. 583]......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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