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U.S. Supreme Court

Connecticut Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Moore, 333 U.S. 541 (1948)

Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Moore

No. 337

Argued December 19, 1947

Decided larch 29, 1948

333 U.S. 541


1. As applied to policies of insurance issued by foreign corporations for delivery in New York on the lives of residents of New York, where the insured persons continue to be residents of New York and the beneficiaries are residents at the maturities of the policies, Article VII of the Abandoned Property Law of New York, requiring payment to the State of the monies held or owing by life insurance corporations and remaining unclaimed for seven years by the persons entitled thereto, does not impair the obligation of contracts within the meaning of Art. I, § 10 of the Constitution. Pp. 333 U. S. 545-548.

2. Nor does it deprive foreign insurance companies of their property without due process of law contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment, since the relationship between New York and its residents who abandon claims against foreign insurance companies and the relationship between New York and foreign insurance companies qualifying to do business in New York are sufficiently close to give New York jurisdiction. Pp. 333 U. S. 548-551.

3. The problem of what another state may do as to custody of abandoned insurance monies of companies incorporated therein is not presented in this case, and is not passed upon. P. 333 U. S. 548.

4. Decision is reserved as to instances where insured persons, after delivery of the policies, cease to be residents of New York or where the beneficiaries are not residents of New York at the maturities of the policies. P. 333 U. S. 549.

5. A decision of the highest court of a state sustaining generally the validity of a state abandoned property law and having the effect of requiring appellants to comply with the state law is reviewable in this Court on an appeal under § 237(a) of the Judicial Code when precise questions arising under the Federal Constitution are presented, even though the decision arises out of a suit for a declaratory judgment presenting the questions abstractly, and not out of a concrete case involving particular funds and facts. Pp. 333 U. S. 550-551.

29 N.Y. 1, 74 N.E.2d 24, affirmed.

Page 333 U. S. 542

In a suit for a declaratory judgment, the Supreme Court of New York sustained (with certain exceptions) the validity of Article VII of the Abandoned Property Law of New York, as applied to foreign insurance companies. 187 Misc. 1004, 65 N.Y.S.2d 143. The Appellate Division affirmed. 271 App.Div. 1002, 69 N.Y.S.2d 323. The Court of Appeals affirmed with modification. 297 N.Y. 1, 47 N.E.2d 24. On appeal to this Court, affirmed except as to issues specifically reserved, p. 551.

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