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Stopper v. Manhattan Line Insurance Co.

decided: January 31, 1957.

CONSTANCE A. STOPPER
v.
THE MANHATTAN LINE INSURANCE COMPANY OF NEW YORK, APPELLANT.



Author: Hastie

Before BIGGS, Chief Judge, and GOODRICH and HASTIE, Circuit Judges.

HASTIE, Circuit Judge.

This is an action under diversity jurisdiction, upon two insurance policies issued July 19, 1951 by the Manhattan Life Insurance Company, a New York corporation, on the life of Eugene Stopper, a Pennsylvanian. The insured died of a heart attack on October 12, 1951. The insurer denied liability, except for return of premiums, on the ground that Stopper had made fraudulent misrepresentations in his applications for insurance, dated July 13, 1951. Trial to a jury resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff in the full amount of the policies. Judgment was entered on this verdict after the trial judge denied defendant's motion for judgment in accordance with its earlier timely motion for a directed verdict. This appeal followed.

The appellant urges that the court below erred in leaving to the jury the decision whether certain unquestionably false statements in the insurance applications were of such fraudulent character as to vitiate the policies thus obtained. The parties properly recognize that this issue is to be resolved in accordance with Pennsylvania law, since this is a diversity case brought in a district court in Pennsylvania. Croll v. John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co., 3 Cir., 1952, 198 F.2d 562.

The applications for insurance contained the following questions and answers upon which insurer rests its claim of fraudulent misrepresentation:

"Part 1 * * *

"7(b). is any application or reinstatement, pending or contemplated in any other company? (Give details).

"[Answer] No.

"Part 2 * * *

"13.Have you ever been examined for or made application to any life, health, or accident insurance company or have you any application pending on which a policy has not been issued * * *?

"[Answer] No.

"16(b). Have you ever suffered from any ailment or disease of the Heart, Blood Vessels or Lungs?

"[Answer] No.

"19. What * * * Physician or Physicians have you consulted or been treated by, within the last five ...


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