Rupp v. Western Life Indemnity Co.

Citation138 Ky. 18
PartiesRupp v. Western Life Indemnity Co.
Decision Date26 April 1910
CourtCourt of Appeals of Kentucky
138 Ky. 18
Western Life Indemnity Co.
Court of Appeals of Kentucky.
April 26, 1910.

Appeal from Jefferson Circuit Court (Common Pleas Branch, Second Division).


Judgment for defendant, plaintiff appeals. — Reversed.

EDWARDS, OGDEN & PEAK for appellant.



Page 19

Appellant, Clarence Rupp, brought this suit against appellee, Western Life Indemnity Company, on two policies of insurance alleged to have been issued upon the life of his uncle, Geo. McCormack, appellant being named in both policies as the beneficiary. The petition is in two paragraphs, in each of which it is sought to recover $1,000, the amount of each of the policies, and is in the form usually employed in bringing such actions, except it is alleged that, "by the directions and under the instructions of the assured, Geo. McCormack, the defendant, issued the policies payable to this plaintiff, and this without this plaintiff's instance, request or knowledge." Appellee's answer was composed of five paragraphs; to some of which a demurrer was filed, but never acted upon as to the answer, but was carried back to and sustained as to the petition. Plaintiff declined to amend his petition, and the court dismissed it upon the ground that appellant, a nephew of McCormack, had no insurable interest in his uncle's life; that such a contract partook of the nature of a wager, and was void as being against public policy. And this is the only question necessary or proper to be considered upon this appeal.

This court has held in several cases that a person could not take out an insurance policy on the life of another, pay the premiums, and become himself the beneficiary, unless he had an insurable interest in the life of the person insured, for the reason that such would be a wagering contract, and violative of public policy. The court did not hold such contract of insurance void, but only held that the person who had no insurable interest and obtained the policy, and paid the premiums thereon, could not collect it. This, however, is not the question before us. The

Page 20

point is: Has a person a right to obtain a policy, pay the premiums, and name any person he wishes as beneficiary? This is the first time this question has been brought directly before this court. Appellee's counsel contend that such a policy cannot be enforced, even though the beneficiary named in the policy had nothing to do with procuring it, and was ignorant of its issual, and cite the following Kentucky cases, which they claim support their position: Caudell v. Woodward, 96 Ky. 646, 29 S. W. 614; Leaf v. Leaf, 92 Ky. 166, 17 S. W. 354, 854, 13 Ky. Law Rep. 486, Embry's Adm'r v. Harris, 107 Ky. 65, 52 S. W. 958, 21 Ky. Law Rep. 714; Griffin's Adm'r v. Equitable Assurance Society, 119 Ky. 856, 84 S. W. 1164, 27 Ky. Law Rep. 313, and Schlamp v. Berner's Adm'r, 51 S. W. 312, 21 Ky. Law Rep. 324. The question before us was not in issue in any of the cases cited, and was not considered, except by a slight reference in the first-styled case. The opinions in the first two cases referred to construe contracts of insurance issued by what are known as "assessment or benevolent associations," and the court decided them upon the construction of the organic law governing these associations. In the case of Embry's Adm'r v. Harris, supra, Harris as the surety of Embry to a bank for nearly $4,000, obtained a policy on the life of Embry, payable to his (Embry's) estate for the sum of $5,000, and the policy was placed in the hands of Harris to indemnify him against loss as such surety. The court upheld that contract. In the case of Schlamp, etc., v. Berner's Adm'r, supra, Mary Berner took out a policy on her life, which was made payable to her administrator. She afterwards assigned the policy to her cousin, Barbara Schlamp. The court held that Barbara Schlamp had no insurable

Page 21

interest in the life of Mary Berner, and took no interest in the policy by reason of the assignment of the policy to...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT