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NEW YORK LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY v. DODGE.

decided: April 1, 1918.

NEW YORK LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY
v.
DODGE.



ERROR TO THE SPRINGFIELD COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI.

Author: Mcreynolds

[ 246 U.S. Page 365]

 MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the court.

Defendant in error brought suit January 27, 1915, in Circuit Court, Phelps County, Missouri, upon a policy dated October 20, 1900, on life of her husband, Josiah B. Dodge, who died February 12, 1912. She alleged: That plaintiff in error, a New York corporation, had long naintained local offices and carried on the business of life insurance in Missouri, where she and her husband resided; that in 1900, at St. Louis, he applied for and received the policy, she being named as beneficiary; that premiums were paid to October 20, 1907, when the policy lapsed, having then a net value, three-fourths of which, less "indebtedness to the company given on account of past premium payments" applied as required by the Missouri nonforfeiture statute (§ 7897) sufficed to extend it beyond assured's death. Further, that upon application by assured and herself presented at St. Louis the company there made him loans amounting, October 20, 1907, to $1,350, but of this only $599.65 had been applied to premiums. She asked judgment for full amount of policy less loan, unpaid premiums, interest, etc.

Answering, the company admitted issuance of policy, but denied liability because assured borrowed of it, November 1906, at its Home Office, New York City, $1350, hypothecating the policy there as security and then failed to pay premium due October 20, 1907, whereupon in strict compliance with New York law and agreements made there the entire reserve was appropriated to satisfy

[ 246 U.S. Page 366]

     the loan, and all obligation ceased. The assured being duly notified offered no objection. It further set up that as the loan, pledge and foreclosure were within New York the Federal Constitution protected them against inhibition or modification by a Missouri statute; and if intended to produce such result § 7897, Rev. Stats. Mo., 1899, lacked validity.

In reply, defendant in error denied assent to alleged settlement; maintained all transactions in question took place in Missouri; and asserted validity of its applicable statutes.

The Springfield Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment for $2,233.45 -- amount due after deducting loan, unpaid premiums, etc. 189 S.W. Rep. 609. It declared former opinions of the state Supreme Court conclusively settled the constitutionality of § 7897 and that the reserve, after paying advances for premiums, was thereby appropriated to purchasing term insurance, notwithstanding any contrary agreement. Burridge v. Insurance Co., 211 Missouri, 158; Smith v. Mutual Benefit Life Ins. Co., 173 Missouri, 329. Effort to secure a review by the Supreme Court failed.

Section 7897, Rev. Stats. of Mo., 1899, in effect until amended in 1903, provides: "No policies of insurance on life hereafter issued by any life insurance company authorized to do business in this state, . . . shall, after payment upon it of three annual payments, be forfeited or become void, by reason of non-payment of premiums thereof, but it shall be subject to the following rules of commutation, to wit: The net value of the policy, when the premium becomes due, and is not paid, shall be computed . . . and after deducting from three fourths of such net value, any notes or other evidence of indebtedness to the company, given on account of past premium payments on said policies, issued to the insured, which indebtedness shall be then canceled, the balance

[ 246 U.S. Page 367]

     shall be taken as a net single premium for temporary insurance for the full amount written in the policy; . . ." This section and number 7899 are in the margin.*fn1

[ 246 U.S. Page 368]

     Both defendant in error and her husband, the assured, at all times here material resided in Missouri. Being duly licensed by that State, plaintiff in error, responding to an application signed by Josiah B. Dodge at St. Louis, issued and delivered to him there a five thousand dollar twenty year endowment policy upon his life, dated October 20, 1900, naming his wife beneficiary but reserving the right to designate another. Among other things, it stipulated: "Cash loans can be obtained by the insured on the sole security of this policy on demand at any time after this policy has been in force two full years, if premiums have been duly paid to the anniversary of the insurance next succeeding the date when the loan is made. Application for any loan must be made in writing to the Home Office of the company, and the loan will be subject to the terms of the company's loan agreement.The amount of loan available at any time is stated below, and includes any previous loan then unpaid. Interest will be at the rate of five per cent. per annum in advance." Continuation after failure to pay premium was guaranteed, also reinstatement within five years. It further provided: "Premiums are due and payable at the Home Office,

[ 246 U.S. Page 369]

     unless otherwise agreed in writing, but may be paid to an agent producing receipts signed by one of he above-named officers and countersigned by the agent. If any premium is not paid on or before the day when due, or within the month of grace, the liability of the company shall be only as hereinbefore provided for such case." "Any indebtedness to the company, including any balance of he premium for the insurance year remaining unpaid will be deducted in any settlement of this policy or of any benefit thereunder."

By an application addressed to the company at New York accompanied by a loan agreement, both signed at St. Louis and "forwarded from Missouri Clearing House branch office, Angust 29, 1903," together with pledge of the policy -- all received and accepted at the Home Office in New York City -- the assured obtained from the company a loan of $490. Its check for the proceeds drawn on a New York bank and payable to his order was sent to him at St. Louis by mail. Annually thereafter the outstanding loan was settled and a larger one negotiated -- all in substantial accord with plan just described.The avails were applied partly to premiums; the balance went directly to assured by the company's check on a New York bank. Copies of last application, loan agreement and instruction which follow indicate the details of the transaction.

[Application]

Nov. 9, 1906.

New York Life Insurance Company, 346 & 348 Broadway, New York.

Re Policy No. 2,054,961.

Application is hereby made for a cash loan of $1,350.00 on the security of the above policy, issued by the New York Life Insurance Company on the life of Josiah B. Dodge, subject to the terms of said Company's Loan Agreement.

[ 246 U.S. Page 370]

     Said policy is forwarded herewith for deposit with said Company as collateral security, together with said Company's Loan Agreement duly signed in duplicate.

JOSIAH B. DODGE. LEO F. DODGE.

Forwarded from Missouri Clearing House, Branch Office, Nov. 9, 1906. M. F. BAYARD, Cashier.

[POLICY LOAN AGREEMENT.]

Pursuant to the provisions of Policy No. 2054961 issued by the New York Life Insurance Company on the life of Josiah B. Dodge, the undersigned has this day obtained a cash loan from said Company of the sum of thirteen hundred fifty dollars ($1,350 00), the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, conditioned upon pledging as collateral said policy with said Company as sole security for said loan and giving assent to the terms of this Policy Loan Agreement; therefore,

In consideration of the premises, the undersigned hereby agree as follows:

1. To pay said Company interest on said loan at the rate of five per cent per annum, payable in advance from this date to the next anniversary of said policy, and annually in advance on said anniversary and thereafter.

2. To pledge, and do hereby pledge, said policy as sole security for the payment of said loan and interest and herewith deposit said policy with said Company at its Home Office.

3. To pay said Company said sum when due with interest, reserving, however, the right to reclaim said policy by repayment of said loan with interest at any time before due, said repayment to cancel this agreement without further action.

4. That said loan shall become due and payable --

(a) Either if any premium on said policy or any interest

[ 246 U.S. Page 371]

     on said loan is not paid on the date when due, in which event said pledge shall, without demand or notice of any kind, every demand and notice being hereby waived, be foreclosed by ...


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