« ForrigeFortsett »
edness is increased to an amount far in excess of the requisite sum.
The Bankrupt Act (§ 39, 14 Stat. at L., 517) provides for an adjudication of involuntary bankruptcy upon the petition of one or more creditors, the aggregate of whose debts provable under the Act amounts to at least $250. It becomes necessary, therefore, to ascertain what constitutes a debt that may be proved. The plaintiff in error contends that it is limited to the principal of a sum of money owing, while the assignee claims that it includes the principal and all accrued interest.
To determine this question we must look in the first place to the Act itself. If the intention of Congress is manifest from what there appears we need not go further. Sec. 19 provides "That all debts due and payable from the bankrupt at the time of the adjudication of bankruptcy, and all debts then existing but not payable until a future day, a rebate of interest being made when no interest is payable by the terms of the contract, may be proved against the estate of the bankrupt." And 156*] again; "all demands against the bankrupt, for or on account of any goods or chattels wrongfully taken or withheld by him, may be proved and allowed as debts to the amount of the value of the property so taken or withheld, with interest."
There is certainly nothing here which in express terms excludes interest from the provable debt. On the contrary, there is the strong est implication in favor of including it.
point of jurisdiction, that the *petition. [*157 ing creditors should have owing to them from the debtor they wish to pursue, debts provable under the Act to the required amount. The English cases referred to in the argument, in our opinion, have no application here. They are founded upon the English statutes and the established practice under them. Our statute is different in its provisions and requires, as we think, a different practice.
This is conclusive of the case. The petition filed in the bankruptcy proceedings distinctly averred that the debts due the petitioner exceeded the sum of $250; and, if interest is added, the particular indebtedness specified amounts to more than that sum. The court found this allegation true. That finding is conclusive in a collateral action. We have so decided in Michaels v. Post ante, 520, at the present term. Where the record shows jurisdiction, an adjudication of bankruptcy can only be assailed by a direct proceeding in a competent court. Evidence, therefore, to show that payments had been made which reduced the indebtedness below the required amount, was inadmissible under any form of pleading in an action like this, but it was especially so in this case, because there is no averment in the pleadings contradicting the record. The sole objection is that upon the face of the record the error is apparent. A record cannot be impeached without previous notice by proper form of pleading.
The judgment is affirmed.
CHARLES W. JEFFRIES, Admr. of Allan
(See S. C., 22 Wall., 47-57.)
are false answer.
The object is to ascertain the total amount of the indebtedness of the bankrupt at the time of the commencement of the proceedings, and also the amount of this indebtedness owing to each one of the separate creditors. Accrued interest is as much a part of this indebtedness as the principal. It participates in dividends, when declared, precisely the same as the principal. One has no preference over the other, Warranties in applications for insurance—what and for all the purposes of the settlement of the estate the bankrupt owes one as much as he does the other. Creditors prove their debts in order that they may participate in the management and distribution of the estate. Their influence in the management and their share on the distribution depend upon the amount of their several debts which have been proven. Hence, in order to fix the quitable representative value of a debt not due, provision is made for a rebate of interest. But if interest is to be rebated on debts not due, why ot, upon the same principle, add it to such as are past due?
The provision for adding interest to the value of goods wrongfully taken and converted is equally significant. Certainly no good reason can be given for withholding interest in cases arising upon contract and allowing it in cases of tort, and because it is expressly given in the last and no provision is made for it in the first, the conclusion is irresistible that it was expected to follow the contract as a part of the obligation.
1. Where the averment in the application for insurance is that the statements and declarations made therein are in all respects true, and the policy is made and accepted upon the express condition and agreement that such statements and declarations are in all respects true, this stipulation is not made as to important or material statements oniy, but as to all statements.
2. It is no answer that the false statement was not material to the risk, or that it was a positive advantage to the Company to be deceived by it. 3. A false answer, to an inquiry whether the applicant has made any other application to have his life insured and whether he is married or single, held to avoid the policy.
Argued Mar. 2, 1875. Decided Apr. 5, 1875.
'N ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Missouri. The case is fully stated by the court. Messrs. T. W. B. Crews and J. S. Laurie, for plaintiff in error:
A misrepresentation will never vitiate a policy, unless material to the risk. Such mate
NOTE. Material misrepresentation avoids policy -see note, 7 L. ed. U. S. 335.
We are all, therefore, clearly of the opinion that accrued interest constitutes part of a debt Effect of agents filling in untrue answers in approvable against the estate of the bankrupt, plication for life insurance, without knowledge of and if it does it is necessarily part of a debt assured-see note, 20 L. ed. U. S. 617. which may be used to uphold involuntary pro-tations with respect to previous applications for Forfeiture of life insurance by false represenceedings. It is only necessary, upon this insurance -see note, 55 L. R. A. 122.
riality must be averred, and its determination language is certainly a warranty, and if not is a question solely for the jury. literally complied with, the contract is
Daniels v. Hudson River Fire Ins. Co., 12 avoided. Cush., 416; Mut. Ben. Ins. Co. v. Robertson, 59 Ill., 123, reported in Chicago Legal News, Nov. 25, 1871; Mut. Benefit L. Ins. Co. v. Mil ler, Ind. Rep. reported in 2 Ins. Law Jour., 101; Farmers' Ins. Co. v. Snyder, 16 Wend., 481, Phil. Ins., 5th ed., p. 580, sec. 540 and cases cited; Anderson v. Fitzgerald, 4 H. L. Cas., p. 504.
Kelsey v. Universal Life Ins. Co., 35 Conn., 225; Miles v. Conn. Mutual Life Ins. Co., 3 Gray, 580, and cases cited; Cazenove v. The British Equitable Ins. Co., 6 C. B. (N. S.), 437; Duckett v. Williams, 2 Cromp. & M., 348; Carpenter v. Providence Washington Ins. Co., 16 Pet., 509, 510 and 511; Duncan v. Sun Fire Ins. Co., 6 Wend., 488; Hutchinson v. Western Ins. Co., 21 Mo., 101.
In the latter case the Lord Chancellor says: "If it is not a warranty, but a misrepresenta- But even conceding that the statements made tion, if made bona fide, it does not signify by the assured were representations collateral whether false or not, unless it is material. In- to the contract, as urged by appellant; yet, the deed, whether bona fide or not, if it is not ma- materiality of those statements is not a questerial, the contract is quite unimportant." tion for the jury to determine. It is shown by And Mr. Baron Parke, 4 House of Lords, p. the first plea that the false statements made by 484, remarks: "These words, no doubt, must the assured were so made in response to parbe understood not to include a false statement ticular questions asked of him by the insurers. of matters to the disparagement of the appli- Under such circumstances, the statements must cant for insurance, and tending to render his be presumed to have been material; otherwise life less insurable; such a construction would the questions would not have been asked. be clearly absurd, and in no way reconcilable with the manifest object of the promise."
No better illustration of the extent to which the doctrine has been carried can be given than by quoting from Byles, Associate Justice of the Court of Common Pleas as reported in the case of Cazenove v. British Equitable Ins. Co., 5 Jur. Rep. (N. S.), 1309, where he says: "It would seem from Anderson v. Fitzgerald, 4 H. L. Cas. (supra), as I read it, that if a man says he has had 365 days' illness, and in fact he has had 364 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, that is an untrue statement and vitiates the policy."
It is a notorious fact that married men are regarded by insurance companies as less hazardous risks than single men. A prior insurance by another company can only be regarded as an indorsement and complimentary to the applicant as a fit subject for a risk. Yet the applicant answers "No," thereby inviting in quiry, and rendering himself liable to a more searching examination. How could defendant have been misled or injured by such a statement? The position seems to us untenable, and in support of the principle contended for by the plaintiff, we refer to Parsons on Contracts, 6th ed., 471, note a, and cases cited, in which it is said: "Nor is a policy avoided by such misstatement of a fact which, if truly stated, would diminish the risk, for then if the insurers are deceived, it is to their own advantage. Nor is a policy avoided by a mere misrepresentation relating to a fact concerning which there is an express warranty."
"Such inquiries, as for instance, those relating to the social or business relations of the applicant, are merely incidental to the risk, and their materiality is a question to be submitted to the jury.' May, Life Ins., §§ 176,
177. and cases cited.
Messrs. Joshua La Due and A. M. Thayer, for defendant in error:
The policy in this case refers, in express terms, to the statements contained in the application, and the validity of the policy is made to depend upon those statements being, not merely true in substance or true with respect to material matters therein stated, but upon their being in all respects true. This
The following cases were decided on the above ground.
Campbell v. New England Mutual Life Ins. Co., and cases cited therein, 98 Mass., 401; Miller v. Mutual Benefit Life Ins. Co., 2 Big. L. Ins. Cas., 693; Phil. Ins. § 542.
The business of life insurance is founded upon a theory with respect to the persistence of human life. It balances probabilities and takes into account the most trivial circumstances.
To say, therefore, with respect to such contracts, that the assured or a jury may decide for themselves what facts shall be disclosed or what matters are material for the expert actuary to know, is in effect saying that such contracts should be framed and interpreted by the most ignorant party thereto.
We apprehend that it is safer to follow the established rule requiring the assured to answer truthfully such questions as are asked by the insurer, and excluding all inquiry as to their materiality. This rule should most certainly be followed in cases like the one under consideration, where the statements made were made knowingly and designedly and are, therefore, morally false and fraudulent. The rule should furthermore be enforced in the present case, inasmuch as the parties, by the condi tions of the contract, have themselves agreed that any false statement shall render the contract null and void, thereby establishing their own rule of construction.
Mr. Justice Hunt delivered the opinion of the court:
The plaintiff, as administrator of Allan A. Kennedy, brought this action against the Economical Insurance Company, alleging that on the 19th day of October, 1870, it issued a policy of insurance upon the life of Kennedy in the sum of $5,000, which policy was set forth at length, that Kennedy died in August, 1871, and that notice had been given to the Company of his death, payment of the amount of insurance demanded and refused.
The policy contained the clauses following, viz.:
This policy is issued by the Company and accepted by the insured and the holder thereof on the following express conditions and agre
ments, which are part of this contract of in
First. That the statements and declarations made in the application for this policy, and on the faith of which it is issued, are in all respects true, and without the suppression of any fact relative to the health or circumstances of the insured, affecting the interests of said Com
Sixth. That in case of the violation of the foregoing conditions or any of them, or of the insured dying in or in consequence of a duel or in violation of the laws of the United States or of any Nation, State or Province, or by reason of intoxication, this policy shall become null and void.
The answer of the defendant, among others, contained the following allegations:
That the policy was by this defendant issued, and by the said Kennedy accepted, in the following express condition and agreement contained in said policy and made part of said contract of insurance, to wit: that the statements and declarations made in the application for 49*] said policy and on the faith of which it was issued, were in all respects true and with out the suppression of any fact relating to the health or circumstances of the assured, affecting the interests of the defendants, and upon the further condition, to wit: that in case of the violation of the aforesaid condition among others, or of the insured dying in or in consequence of a duel, or in violation of the laws of the United States, or of any Nation, State or Province, or by reason of intoxication, said policy should become null and void; that said Allan A. Kennedy did violate the first condition in this: that the statements and declarations made by the said Kennedy in his application for said policy of insurance were not in all respects true, but were false in the following respects, to wit: defendant said that in and by said application for said policy of insurance and on the faith of which said policy was issued, the said Kennedy, in answer to the question therein asked of him as to whether he was married or single, stated that he was single, meaning thereby that he was a single and unmarried man; whereas, in truth and fact, said Kennedy was then and there a married man, having a wife then living, as he, the said Kennedy, then and there well knew.
The contention in opposition to the judg ment is this: that the plea does not aver that the false statements made by the assured were material to the risk assumed. Is that averment necessary to make the plea a good one?
It is contended, also, that the false answers in the present case were not to the injury of the Company; that they presented the applicant's case in a less favorable light to himself than if he had answered truly. Thus, to the inquiry: "Are you married or single?" when he falsely answered that he was single, he made himself a less eligible candidate for insurances than if he had truly stated that he was a married man; that although he deceived the Company, and caused it to enter into a contract that it did not intend to make, it was deceived to its advantage, and made a more favorable bargain than was supposed.
This is bad morality and bad law. No one may do evil that good may come. No man is justified in the utterance of a falsehood. It is an equal offense in morals, whether committed for his own benefit or that of another. The fallacy of this position as a legal proposition, will appear in what we shall presently say of the contract made between the parties.
We are to observe, first, the averment of the plea: that Kennedy, in and by his application for the policy of insurance, in answer to a question asked of him by the Company, whether he was "married or single," made the false statement that he was "single," knowing it to be untrue; that in reply to a further question therein asked of him by the Company, whether "any application had been made to any other company? If so, when?" answered "No;" whereas, in fact, at the time of making such false statement, he well knew that he had previously made application for such insurance, and been insured in the sum of $10,000 by another company.
*Secondly, we are to observe the aver- [*53 ment that the statements and declarations made in the application for said policy, and on the faith of which it is issued, are in all respects true, and without the suppression of any fact relating to the health or circumstances of the insured affecting the interests of the Company.
We are to observe, also, that other clause of the policy, in which it is declared that this polDefendant further says that, in and by said icy is made by the Company and accepted by application for said policy of insurance and on the insured, upon the express condition and the faith of which said policy of insurance was agreement that such statements and declaraissued, the said Kennedy in reply to the questions are in all respects true. This applies to tion therein asked of him, "Has any applica- all and to each one of such statements. tion been made to any other company; if so, other words, if the statements are not true, it when?" answered, "No," meaning thereby that is agreed that no policy is made by the Comhe, the said Kennedy, had not prior thereto pany, and no policy is accepted by the insured. applied for insurance on his life to any other life insurance company; whereas, in truth and in fact, said Kennedy had, prior thereto, to wit: on or about the month of April, 1870, applied for insurance upon his life to the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, and had been insured therein in the sum of $10,000, as the said Kennedy, at the time of making said answer, then and there well knew.
To this plea a demurrer was interposed, which was sustained by the court below. From the judgment entered upon this demurrer, the present writ of error is brought.
The proposition at the foundation of this point is this, that the statements and declarations made in the policy shall be true.
This stipulation is not expressed to be made as to important or material statements only, or to those supposed to be material, but as to all statements. The statements need not come up to the degree of warranties. They need not be representations even, if this term conveys an idea of an affirmation having any technical character. "Statements and declarations" is the expression-what the applicant states and what the applicant declares. Nothing can be
more simple. If he makes any statement in, answers were false. F. signed the proposal the application it must be true. If he makes and a declaration accompanying, by which he any declaration in the application it must be agreed "that the particulars above mentioned true. A faithful performance of this agree- should form the basis of the contract." ment is made an express condition to the exist-policy mentioned several things, which were ence of a liability on the part of the Company. warranted by F., among which these two anThere is no place for the argument either swers were not included. The policy also conthat the false statement was not material to tained this proviso: that "If anything so warthe risk, or that it was a positive advantage to ranted shall not be true, or if any circumthe Company to be deceived by it. stance material to this insurance shall not have been truly stated, or shall have been misrepresented or concealed, or any false statement made to the Company in or about the obtaining or effecting of this insurance," the Justice Ball, he charged the jury "that they must not only be satisfied that the various false statements were false in fact, and were made in and about effecting the policy, but also that such false statements were material to the insurance." A bill of exceptions was tendered, on the ground that the jury should have been directed "that if the statements were made in and about effecting the insurance and such statements were false in fact, the defendants were entitled to a verdict, whether such statements were or were not material." The exceptions were argued in the Court of Exchequer, where judgment was ordered for the plaintiff on the verdict. A writ of error was brought in the Court of Exchequer Chamber, where the judgment was affirmed by a majority of seven to three. The writ of error to the House of Lords was then brought. Mr. Baron Parke, Mr. Baron Alderson, Mr. Justice Coleridge, Mr. Justice Wightman, Mr. Justice Erle, Mr. Justice Creswell, Mr. Baron Platt, Mr. Justice Talfourd, Mr. Justice Williams, Mr. Baron Martin and Mr. Justice Crompton attended.
It is the distinct agreement of the parties, that the Company shall not be deceived to its injury or to its benefit. The right of an individual or a corporation to make an unwise bargain is as complete as that to make a wise bar-policy should be void. On the trial before Mr. gain. The right to make contracts carries with 54*] it the right to determine what is prudent and wise, what is unwise and imprudent, and upon that point the judgment of the individual is subject to that of no other tribunal. The case in hand affords a good illustration of this principle. The Company deems it wise and prudent that the applicant should inform them truly whether he has made any other application to have his life insured. So material does it deem this information, that it stipulates that its liability shall depend upon the truth of the answer. The same is true of its inquiry whether the party is married or single. The Company fixes this estimate of its importance. The applicant agrees that it is thus important by accepting this test. It would be a violation of the legal rights of the Company to take from it its acknowledged power, thus to make its opinion the standard of what is material, and to leave that point to the determination of a jury. The jury may say, as the counsel here argues, that it is immaterial whether the applicant answers truly if he answers one way, viz.: that he is single, or that he has not made an application for insurance. Whether a question is material depends upon the question itself. The information received may be immaterial. But if under any circumstances it can produce a reply which will influence the action of the Company, the question cannot be deemed immaterial. Insurance companies sometimes insist that individuals largely insured upon their lives, who are embarrassed in their affairs, resort to self-destruction, being willing to end a wretched existence if they can thereby bestow comfort upon their families. The juror would be likely to repudiate such a theory, on the ground that nothing can compensate a man for the loss of his life. The juror may be right and the Company may be wrong. But the Company has expressly provided that their judgment, and not the judgment of the juror, shall govern. Their right thus to contract, and the duty of the court to give effect to such contracts, cannot be denied.
Opinions were delivered by Mr. Baron Parke, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Brougham [*56 and Lord St. Leonards, all concurring in reversing the judgment, on the ground that the question of the materiality of the statements should not have been submitted to the jury. This case was decided upon facts almost identical with the one before us, and presented the precise question we are considering. The counsel for the defendants asked for a ruling, that if the statements were untrue, the defendants were entitled to a verdict, whether they were or were not material. This was refused, and the judge charged that to entitle the defendants to a verdict, the statements must not only be false, but material to the insurance. This was held to be error, and the judgment was reversed.
Cazenove v. Ass. Co., 6 C. B. (N. S.), 437 (and see, Duckett v. Williams, 2 Cromp. & M., 348), is a familiar case. The opinion was delivered by Cockburn, Ch. J., of the Common Pleas, and was decided in the same way. case was affirmed in the Exchequer Chamber, in 1860, 6 Jur. (N. S.), 826, 1860; 3 Big. Cas., 213; Price v. Ins. Co., 17 Minn., 497.
Of the authorities in support of these views, a few only will be mentioned. In Anderson v. Fitzgerald, 4 H. L. Cas., 483, 487, Fitzgerald 55*] *applied to an insurance office to effect a policy on his life. He received a form of pro- Many cases may be found which hold, that posal containing questions required to be an- where false answers are made to inquiries swered. Among them were the following: which do not relate to the risk, the policy is "Did any of the party's near relatives die of not necessarily avoided unless they influenced consumption or any other pulmonary com- the mind of the company, and that whether plaint?" and "Has the party's life been accept- they are material is for the determination of ed or refused at any office?" To each of these the jury. But we know of no respectable questions the applicant answered "No." The authority which so holds, where it is expressly
covenanted as a condition of liability that the statements and declarations made in the application are true, and when the truth of such statements forms the basis of the contract.
The counsel for the insured insists that policies of insurance are hedged about with so many qualifications and conditions, that questions are propounded with so much ingenuity and in such detail, that they operate as a snare, and that justice is sacrificed to forms. We are not called upon to deny this statement. The present, however, is not such a case. The want of honesty was on the part of the applicant. The attempt was to deceive the Com57*] pany. It is a *case, so far as we can discover, in which law and justice point to the same result, to wit: the exemption of the Company. Judgment affirmed.
that Louis Labeaume, on the 27th of June, 1808, gave notice to the old Board, of his claim to said tract of land, and produced the concession and his derivative title papers. He died in 1821, and left a will devising his estate to his wife. Louis A. Labeaume, his son, appeared before the new Board of Commissioners and presented the claim originally filed by his father in his mother's behalf, as representing the original claimant.
The conveyance to Louis Labeaume, as filed before the Board *as evidence of his [*256 title, shows two different conveyances on the same paper; one from eight persons purporting to be the right heirs of the widow Dodier, dated 18th August, 1806, to him; and the other from Joseph Hortez, who signed the first conveyance for and on behalf of Margaret Bequette, his wife, as one of the heirs of widow Dodier, on which he conveys to Louis Labeaume
Dissenting, Mr. Justice Clifford and Mr. the tract, as having been acquired by him at Justice Miller.
a judicial sale, as the property of the widow Dodier, made and ordered by the Lieutenant
254*] *CHARLES CONNOYER et al., Plffs. Governor, but the procès verbal of which sale
(See S. C., 22 Wall., 254-263.) Confirmation of land title- effect of.
1. A Spanish claim to land, if confirmed by the commissioners, has the effect of a confirmation to the legal representatives of the person to whom the original concession was made, where the commissioners passed upon nothing but the merits of the original concession.
2. But where the claimant presented before the Board, besides the original title, evidence of a derivative title, and the commissioners decided upon both, the confirmation operates as a grant to the claimant, although his name was omitted in the form of confirmation.
Messrs. Glover & Shepley, for defendant in error.
Mr. Justice Davis delivered the opinion of the court:
This is an action of ejectment to try the title to a lot of land in the City of St. Louis, being a common field lot confirmed to widow Dodier or her legal representatives on the report of the Board of Commissioners, by Act of Congress of July 4, 1836. The tract was originally conceded by Pedro Piernas, acting Lieutenant Governor of the Spanish Government of Illinois, to the widow Dodier, and the claim for it was presented to the old Board of Commissioners proceeding under the Acts of Congress of 1805 and 1807, by Louis Labeaume. This Board did not confirm the claim, but the last Board recommended it for confirmation on June 15, 1835, and it was confirmed in form as stated above. It appears from the evidence
and adjudication had been lost in the Secretary's office. This was dated the 23d August, 1806, and the same deed, as recorded in the Recorder's Office of St. Louis County, was also given in evidence with the acknowledgments appended thereto.
The plaintiffs contend that the deed of the persons purporting to be the lawful heirs of the widow Dodier, conveyed only three fourths of the tract to Labeaume, and that Hortez's deed was not effective to convey anything.
On the contrary, the defendant insists that the regularity of the papers accompanying Labeaume's claim cannot be inquired into, as the confirmation, when made, inured to Labeaume if living and if dead, then to his legal representatives.
in the case: to whom does the confirmation inThis presents the substantial point of inquiry ure? If to Labeaume, then it is an immaterial
inquiry whether the title papers procured by him were imperfectly executed or not. the legal representatives of the widow Dodier, the inquiry is material. *The question [*261
is not a new one.
Two classes of claims were presented to the commissioners-one where the claimant exhibited with his claim evidence of a derivative title from the concedee, the other where he only produced the original concession without attempting to show his connection with it.
In the latter class of cases the claim, if confirmed, has been held to have the effect of a confirmation to the legal representatives of the person to whom the original concession was made. This ruling proceeds upon the theory that the commissioners passed upon nothing but the merits of the original concession, having no opportunity to pass upon the validity of anything else. Of this class, where no evidences of derivative title at all were filed with the concession, is the case of Hogan v. Page, reported in 22 Mo., 55, and 32 Mo., 68, 2 Wall., 605, 17 L. ed. 854.
But where the claimant presented before the