Thompson v. Patrons Mut. Fire Ins. Ass'n, No. 45769.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtWENNERSTRUM
Citation231 Iowa 168,300 N.W. 642
PartiesTHOMPSON v. PATRONS MUT. FIRE INS. ASS'N.
Decision Date18 November 1941
Docket NumberNo. 45769.

231 Iowa 168
300 N.W. 642

THOMPSON
v.
PATRONS MUT.
FIRE INS. ASS'N.

No. 45769.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Nov. 18, 1941.


Appeal from District Court, Madison County; E. W. Dingwell, Judge.

Action by plaintiff on insurance policy issued by defendant association. Opinion states the facts.

Affirmed.

Carl P. Knox and H. E. Newton, both of Stuart and H. H. Griffiths, of Des Moines, for appellant.

Daniel J. Gallery, of Winterset and X. C. Nady, of Fairfield, for appellee.


WENNERSTRUM, Justice.

Plaintiff has brought an action to collect on a fire insurance policy issued by the defendant association. Loss was sustained by reason of damages by fire to plaintiff's

[300 N.W. 643]

residence property and the contents. The policy had been issued to the plaintiff's son. The association plead and contended in the district court that it had no contract with the plaintiff and for that reason she had no cause of action against defendant. The court submitted the case to the jury, after overruling a motion for a directed verdict at the close of plaintiff's testimony and again at the close of all the evidence. There was a claim made on the part of the plaintiff that certain acts and statements made by officials of the association constituted a waiver and estoppel on the part of the defendant to raise any question as to the ownership of the property and as to the issuance by it of the policy in the name of her son. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The trial court overruled defendant's motion for a new trial and exceptions to instructions and entered a judgment against the defendant in accordance with the verdict. Defendant has appealed to this court.

Our consideration of the issues involved in this appeal necessitates a brief review of the facts as disclosed by the evidence. The property in question is located in Earlham, Iowa. The policy was issued on or about January 11, 1938, and at the time of its issuance title to the property was in the name of Lulu Thompson, the plaintiff herein, who held a one-third interest and her six children who each had a one-ninth interest. Robert Thompson was one of plaintiff's children.

On the date of the issuance of the policy, Robert Thompson and his wife, Fay, were residing in the property. On that date one W. E. Ruscher, then president of the association but later secretary, came to the home where Robert and his wife were living and an application for insurance with the defendant association was made out. According to the testimony of Robert Thompson he advised Ruscher at that time that title to the property was in the mother and six children and Thompson was advised by Ruscher that the policy could be taken out in his name even though he did not hold complete title. Mr. Ruscher is quoted by Mrs. Robert Thompson as saying that “he trusted my husband enough, that if there was a loss he would settle with his mother instead of writing two policies.”

There was testimony introduced that plans were being formulated to have title to the property transferred to Robert Thompson. Mrs. Thompson, Robert's wife, testified, “we were paying for the insurance; it was intended that the place was to be deeded to us so the insurance was taken in his (Robert's) name.”

During March, 1938, deeds to the property in question were made by Lulu Thompson, the mother, and by the other Thompson children wherein the property covered by the insurance policy was conveyed to Robert Thompson and Fay Thompson.

Robert Thompson and his wife moved out of the property sometime in June, 1939, and plaintiff occupied it until a fire occurred January 16, 1940. It was further shown by the evidence that a quitclaim deed from Robert Thompson and Fay Thompson, his wife to Lulu B. Thompson, was filed for record October 1, 1938. This deed conveyed to the plaintiff the property herein involved. The plaintiff testifies that on the date the deed was given she also obtained the policy which is the subject of this litigation. There was no written assignment and no notice to the company except as hereinafter noted.

On or about October 10, 1939, a written notice was sent to Robert Thompson by W. E. Ruscher which in substance gave notice to pay the assessment then due within thirty days from the date of the mailing of the notice. It further stated that if it was not paid, a second notice would be given and that if the assessment was not then paid within thirty days, a registered notice would be sent and thereupon the policy suspended.

On October 25, 1939, one Clyde Nolte, a director of the defendant association, came to the Earlham residence then occupied by plaintiff, accompanied by Glenn Fowler. These parties informed plaintiff that they were inspecting houses for the association. The plaintiff states that at that time she asked these men if the policy she had was good and according to her testimony, “they said it was.” On that occasion she asked Mr. Nolte about writing some more insurance for her and at that time, according to plaintiff's testimony, “he said this insurance was all right.”

On the occasion of inspection by Fowler and Nolte the plaintiff was given a certificate of inspection on a printed form, which is in part as follows:

“Certificate of inspection.
Patron's Mutual F. & L. Assocn.

Policy No. 7702.


Re-ins. No. 78,012.

[300 N.W. 644]

Name (was) Robert Thompson. Lulu B. Thompson, Earlham, Iowa. * * *. This certificate delivered to Mrs. Thompson on this 25th day of Oct., 1939. Inspector. Glenn Fowler.”

It is asserted by the defendant and borne out by the testimony that Glenn Fowler, at the time of the inspection, was representing a re-insurance organization that apparently was carrying re-insurance on the policies issued by the defendant association. However, on the back of the form which Fowler signed is this further statement:

“To our members:

Dear Friend: The inspector who made this report has visited your place at our request. * * *.

Very respectfully, W. E. Ruscher, Secretary.”

Plaintiff further testified that when the inspection notice was given to her there was further conversation about the insurance and her testimony is in part as...

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2 practice notes
  • United States v. Farmers Mut. Ins. Ass'n of Kiron, Iowa, No. 16594.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • April 3, 1961
    ...against increase of hazard without their knowledge and consent and may be waived." See also Thompson v. Patrons Mut. Fire Ins. Ass'n, 231 Iowa 168, 300 N.W. 642; Neiman v. City of New York Ins. Co., 202 Iowa 1172, 211 N.W. 17 C.J.S. Contracts § 409 states: "Provisions for forfeiture may be ......
  • Morris v. American Fidelity Fire Ins. Co., No. 43393
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • April 5, 1965
    ...of a transfer of the title was for the benefit of the company, and could be waived by it.' In Thompson v. Patrons Mut. Fire Ins. Ass'n, 231 Iowa 168, 300 N.W. 642 (1941) it was held as shown by the third syllabus, 'Though by terms of fire policy it is provided that change of ownership of in......
2 cases
  • United States v. Farmers Mut. Ins. Ass'n of Kiron, Iowa, No. 16594.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • April 3, 1961
    ...against increase of hazard without their knowledge and consent and may be waived." See also Thompson v. Patrons Mut. Fire Ins. Ass'n, 231 Iowa 168, 300 N.W. 642; Neiman v. City of New York Ins. Co., 202 Iowa 1172, 211 N.W. 17 C.J.S. Contracts § 409 states: "Provisions for forfeiture may be ......
  • Morris v. American Fidelity Fire Ins. Co., No. 43393
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • April 5, 1965
    ...of a transfer of the title was for the benefit of the company, and could be waived by it.' In Thompson v. Patrons Mut. Fire Ins. Ass'n, 231 Iowa 168, 300 N.W. 642 (1941) it was held as shown by the third syllabus, 'Though by terms of fire policy it is provided that change of ownership of in......

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