HARTFORD LIFE INS. CO. V. BARBER, 245 U. S. 146 (1917)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hartford Life Ins. Co. v. Barber, 245 U.S. 146 (1917)

Hartford Life Insurance Company v. Barber

Nos. 252, 253

Argued November 5, 6, 1917

Decided November 19, 1917

245 U.S. 146


In a suit against a life insurance company by its certificate holders, it was adjudged by a court of the the company's domicile and in which were its funds that, subject to a limitation as to amount, the company might keep up as theretofore a mortuary fund which it had been its custom to replenish and maintain through assessments made by the executive officers under supervision and control of the board of directors. In a later action in a court of another state, such an assessment was held void, in spite of the judgment, upon the grounds, first, that the assessment exceeded the power of the company and the limit fixed by the judgment, and, second, that it was not made by the board of directors, as required by the company's charter. Held, that the second ground of the decision, even if it did not itself deny full faith and credit to the judgment and the charter, was at most a mere makeweight, which could not be treated as an independent local basis of decision, and that this Court was therefore at liberty to review and reverse the decision upon the first ground, as one denying full faith and credit to the judgment with respect to the amount of the assessment.

The Connecticut judgment considered in Hartford Life Insurance Co. v. Ibs, 237 U. S. 662, providing that any excess in the mortuary fund above the average amount of the four preceding quarterly assessments, in the Men's Division of the Insurance Company's Safety Fund Department, must be distributed to certificate holders by crediting such excess on account of the next succeeding assessment, authorized the company, in assessing for a given quarter, to levy an amount sufficient not only to reimburse the fund for losses accrued at the time of levy, but also sufficient, when added to the balance on hand, to maintain the fund up to the average amount of the last four quarterly assessments, for the purpose of meeting future losses promptly, as they occurred. In holding that an assessment was void because it exceeded the difference between such average amount and the amount remaining in the fund after deducting

Page 245 U. S. 147

death losses up to the time of levy only, the Supreme Court of Missouri failed to accord the judgment full faith and credit.

269 Mo. 21 reversed.

The cases are stated in the opinion.

Page 245 U. S. 148

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