Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York v. Hill (193 U.S. 551)
On April 28, 1886, George D. Hill, at Seattle, Washington, signed a written application to the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York (hereinafter called the insurance company) for a policy of $20,000. The application was forwarded to the home office. The insurance company accepted the application, executed a policy, and forwarded it to its local agent at Seattle, who there, on June 12, 1886, received the first premium and delivered the policy to Hill. The beneficiary named in the policy was Ellen K. Hill, the wife of the applicant. She died on February 14, 1887, leaving four children, the present defendants in error. A premium receipt for the second annual premium was, in 1887, forwarded to the local agent at Seattle, presented by him to Hill, and not paid. No subsequent premiums were paid, and on December 4, 1890, Hill died.
Thereafter this action was commenced in the circuit court of the United States for the district of Washington. The contention of the plaintiffs is that, although the annual premiums for 1887, 1888, 1889, and 1890 had not been paid, the insurance company was nevertheless indebted to them for the full amount of the policy and interest, by reason of the fact that it had failed to give the notice of forfeiture prescribed by chapter 341, Laws 1876, as amended by chapter 321, Laws 1877, of the state of New York. The complaint set out a copy of the policy, alleged the payment of the first annual premium, the death of the insured, and the relationship of the plaintiffs to the beneficiary. The defendant relied upon the nonpayment of the premiums other than the first, and an abandonment of the contract. A demurrer to these defenses was sustained and a judgment entered for the plaintiffs, which was affirmed by the court of appeals for the ninth circuit. 49 L. R. A. 127, 38 C. C. A. 159, 97 Fed. 263. A writ of certiorari was issued by this court (178 U.S. 683, 20 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1032), the judgment reversed, and the case remanded for further proceedings. 178 U.S. 347, 44 L. ed. 1097, 20 Sup. Ct. Rep. 914. An amended answer and a replication were then filed by leave of the circuit court. A trial was had before the court and a jury, which resulted in a verdict and judgment for the plaintiffs. This judgment was affirmed by the court of appeals. (55 C. C. A. 536, 118 Fed. 708) and the case was again brought here on certiorari. 188 U.S. 742, 47 L. ed. 678, 23 Sup. Ct. Rep. 856.
Messrs. Julien T. Davies, Edward Lyman Short, John B. Allen, Frederic D. McKenney, and E. C. Hughes for petitioner.
Messrs. Stanton Warburton, George Turner, Eben Smith, and Harold Preston for respondents.
Statement by Mr. Justice Brewer: Mr. Justice Brewer delivered the opinion of the court: