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U.S. Supreme Court

Watson v. Employers Liab. Assur. Corp., Ltd., 348 U.S. 66 (1954)

Watson v. Employers Liability Assurance Corporation, Ltd.

No. 6

Argued October 14, 1954

Decided December 6, 1954

348 U.S. 66


1. A Louisiana statute which allows persons injured in Louisiana to bring direct actions against liability insurance companies insuring the tortfeasors held constitutional, even when applied to a policy written and delivered in another state which recognizes as binding and enforceable a provision of the policy forbidding such direct actions. Pp. 348 U. S. 67-74.

(a) Since Louisiana's direct action provisions fall with equal force upon all liability insurance companies, foreign and domestic, and there is no evidence of any discriminatory application of them, they do not violate the Equal Protection Clause. P. 348 U. S. 70.

(b) Since the direct action provisions became effective before the insurance contract here sued on was made, they do not violate the Contract Clause of Art. I, § 10, of the Constitution. P. 348 U. S. 70.

(c) In view of Louisiana's legitimate interest in safeguarding the rights of persons injured there, the direct action provisions do not violate the Due Process Clause. Home Ins. Co. v. Dick, 281 U. S. 397, and Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. v. Delta & Pine Land Co., 292 U. S. 143, distinguished. Pp. 348 U. S. 70-73.

(d) The Full Faith and Credit Clause does not compel Louisiana to subordinate its direct action provisions to the contract laws of Massachusetts, where this insurance policy was issued. P. 348 U. S. 73.

(e) Louisiana's law compelling foreign insurance companies to consent to direct actions does not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 348 U. S. 73-74.

2. Provisions of Louisiana's statute having been held invalid as repugnant to the Federal Constitution, this case is properly here on appeal, and the writ of certiorari is dismissed. P. 348 U. S. 70 and n. 7.

202 F.2d 407 reversed.

Page 348 U. S. 67

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