Stone v. National Sur. Corp.

Decision Date29 May 1962
Docket NumberNo. 12116,12116
Citation147 W.Va. 83,125 S.E.2d 618
PartiesOpha E. STONE, Sheriff of Putnam County, v. NATIONAL SURETY CORPORATION.
CourtWest Virginia Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court

'Where the provisions of an insurance policy contract are clear and unambiguous they are not subject to judicial construction or interpretation, but full effect will be given to the plain meaning intended.' Point 1, Syllabus, Christopher v. United States Life Insurance Company, W.Va., .

Savage, Goshorn MacCorkle & Rippetoe, D. J. Savage, Charleston, for plaintiff in error.

No appearance, for defendant in error.

GIVEN, Judge.

This writ of error involves the right of plaintiff, Opha E. Stone, Sheriff of Putnam County, to recover for losses alleged to have been suffered through the felonious abstraction of money from a safe, under the terms of an insurance contract issued by the defendant, National Surety Corporation, dated July 1, 1957, and in effect at the time of the loss sued for. The matter was by agreement submitted to the trial court, in lieu of a jury, and the court found that the insured had substantially complied with the terms of the contract and entered judgment for the plaintiff in the amount of$4,000.00.

The parties stipulated the facts which, insofar as material, were: That on February 21, 1958, the chief deputy in charge of the office of plaintiff at the time, went to lunch at about 12:05 P.M.; that when he left the office he locked the office door, and the cash drawer inside the safe and closed the doors to the safe, but did not put the combination on to lock the doors of the safe, and that on his return to the office 'the safe doors were opened and the cash box in the safe had been broken into and all the cash, except the silver and pennies, was gone'. There is no controversy as to the amount of the judgment. Only a question as to liability under the terms of the policy contract is involved.

Plaintiff in error relies on two provisions of the policy. The first, insofar as pertinent, provides for payment 'For all loss by BURGLARY which shall mean the felonious abstraction of property specified under Coverage C in the Declarations from within the insured part (as specified under Coverage C in the Declarations) of the safe or vault, by any person or persons making felonious entry into such safe and such insured part thereof, and also into the vault, if any, containing such safe, when all doors of such safe and vault are duly closed and locked by all combination and time locks thereon; provided that such entry shall be made by actual force and violence of which there shall be visible marks made by tools, explosives, electricity, gas or other chemicals, upon the exterior of (a) all of said doors of such safe and of the insured part thereof and of the vault, if any, containing such safe, if entry is made through such doors; or (b) the top, bottom or walls of such safe and of the insured part thereof and of the vault, through which entry is made, if not made through such doors.'

The other pertinent provision reads: 'All combination and time locks on all safe and vault doors will be maintained in proper working order and will be regularly used while this policy is in force, except as herein stated.' No exception is stated. Our conclusion as to the question arising as to liability under the first quoted provision permits us to consider only that question.

This Court has consistently held that the language of an insurance policy contract, like any other contract, must be accorded its plain meaning, and, where plain, the language must be given full effect, no construction or interpretation being permissible. See Christopher v. United States Life Insurance Company, W.Va., 116...

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9 cases
  • Cotiga Development Co. v. United Fuel Gas Co.
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • February 18, 1963
    ...intended.' Christopher v. United States Life Insurance Co., 145 W.Va. 707, pt. 1 syl., 116 S.E.2d 864. See also Stone v. National Surety Corporation, W.Va., syl. 125 S.E.2d 618. Similar principles have been applied in the consideration of statutory and constitutional provisions. In re Hillc......
  • Meade v. State Compensation Com'r
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • May 29, 1962
  • Lewis v. Dils Motor Co.
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • May 25, 1964
    ...the intent thereby clearly expressed. Spencer v. Travelers Insurance Co., W.Va. pt. 4 syl., 133 S.E.2d 735; Stone v. National Surety Corporation, W.Va., syl., 125 S.E.2d 618; Christopher v. United States Life Insurance Co., 145 W.Va. 707, pt. 1 syl., 116 S.E.2d 864. See also Cotiga Developm......
  • Nisbet v. Watson
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • January 23, 1979
    ...a contract must be accorded its plain meaning and, where plain, the language must be given full effect. See Stone v. National Surety Corporation, 147 W.Va. 83, 125 S.E.2d 618 (1962); Christopher v. United States Life Insurance Company, 145 W.Va. 707, 116 S.E.2d 864 (1960); Davis v. Combined......
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