BANHOLZER V. NEW YORK LIFE INS. CO., 178 U. S. 402 (1900)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Banholzer v. New York Life Ins. Co., 178 U.S. 402 (1900)

Banholzer v. New York Life Insurance Company

No. 277

Argued and submitted April 27, 1900

Decided May 28, 1900

178 U.S. 402


This case is dismissed for want of jurisdiction, as the Supreme Court of Minnesota did not deny the validity of the New York statute with regard

to insurance, but only construed it, and even granting that its construction was erroneous, faith and credit were not denied to the statute.

This action was brought in the District Court of the Second Judicial District of the State of Minnesota upon a life insurance policy for $20,000, issued by defendant in error to William Bankolzer, husband of the plaintiff in error, dated the 16th of September, 1895, payable upon the death of Bankolzer to plaintiff in error, or to Bankolzer himself on the 16th of September, 1915, if he should be living then.

The premiums were to be paid annually in advance on the 16th day of September of every year, until twenty full years' premiums should be paid.

The first premium was paid, which continued the policy in force until the 16th of September, 1896.

The policy contained the following provisions:

"If any premium is not paid on or before the day when due, this policy shall become void, and all payments previously made shall remain the property of the company, except as hereinafter provided."

"A grace of one month will be allowed in payment of subsequent premiums after this policy shall have been in force three months, subject to an interest charge at the rate of five percent per annum for the number of days during which the premium remains due and unpaid. During the month of grace, this policy remains in force, the unpaid premium, with interest, as above, remains an indebtedness to the company, which will be deducted from the amount payable under this policy if the death of the insured shall occur during the month. "

Page 178 U. S. 403

On the 6th day of October, 1896, Bankolzer paid the defendant the sum of $286 in cash, and executed and delivered to the defendant the following note:

"St. Paul, Minn., 9-16, 1896"

"Without grace, six months after date, I promise to pay to the order of the New York Life Insurance Company eight hundred and sixty dollars at Second National Bank, St. Paul, Minn. Value received, with interest at the rate of five percent per annum."

"This note is given in part payment of the premium due 9-16-'96, on the above policy, with the understanding that all claims to further insurance and all benefits whatever which full payment in cash of said premium would have secured shall become immediately void and be forfeited to the New York Life Insurance Company if this note is not paid at maturity, except as otherwise provided in the policy itself."

"(Signed) William Bankolzer"

The following receipt was given for the note:

"St. Paul, Minn., 10-6-'96"

"Note six months, after date 9-16-'96, due 3-16-'97, without grace, made by William Bankolzer, payable at Second National Bank, St. Paul, Minn. Received from the owner of policy No. 692,465, $286 in cash, and his note at six months for $860, which continues said policy in force until the 16th day of September, 1897 at noon, in accordance with its terms and conditions, provided the above note is paid at maturity, and this receipt signed by"

"J. A. Campbell, Cashier"

The note matured March 16, 1897, when it was surrendered to Bankolzer, and he paid to the defendant $241.50 in cash, and executed and delivered to the defendant a new note in terms exactly similar to the first note, except that it was payable in sixty days from date. This note was never paid.

On May 28, 1897, Bankolzer was taken sick, and died on July 5, 1897.

On June 18, 1897, Bankolzer, through his attorney, sent a

Page 178 U. S. 404

draft to the defendant for the sum of $690, being the amount due on the note of March 16 of that year, in tender of its payment. The defendant returned the draft, writing by its comptroller that,

"as policy No. 692,465 -- Bankolzer -- stands lapsed on the books of the company for nonpayment of the note described above, we return herewith the draft forwarded in your letter of above date. We shall thank you for an acknowledgment of this enclosure. When writing, please refer to this letter by file number."

By the application for the policy, the latter was to be construed according to the laws of New York. The statute which is claimed to be applicable is inserted in the margin. *

The notice required by the statute was duly given more than fifteen and less than forty-five days prior to September 16, 1896, but no notice was given prior to the maturity of the notes, except the ordinary bank notice.

Page 178 U. S. 405

The insurance company has not returned the note of March 16, 1897, and the record does not show that it has ever been demanded.

By stipulation of the parties, the printed record in Conway v. Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company, 140 N.Y. 79, together with briefs of counsel, were made part of the record as though they had been introduced in evidence, and it was also stipulated that they should be certified to this Court.

At the close of the plaintiff's testimony, the case was dismissed. Subsequently a motion for a new trial was made and denied, and an appeal was then taken to the supreme court of the state, which affirmed the decision of the trial court. A reargument was granted, and the court adhered to its opinion. 74 Minn. 387.

The case is here on writ of error, and defendant in error moves to dismiss for want of jurisdiction, or to affirm the judgment.

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