New York Life Ins. Co v. Gamer
303 U.S. 161 (1938)

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U.S. Supreme Court

New York Life Ins. Co v. Gamer, 303 U.S. 161 (1938)

New York Life Insurance Co v. Gamer

No. 323

Argued January 13, 1938

Decided February 14, 1938

303 U.S. 161

Syllabus

A life insurance company stipulated to pay double indemnity (twice the face of the policy) upon receipt of due proof that death of the insured resulted, directly and independently of all other causes, from bodily injury effected solely through external, violent, and accidental means, but that double indemnity should not be payable if the death resulted from self-destruction. The insured died of a rifle shot. In an action on the policy in which only the right to the additional payment was in controversy, the issue raised by the pleadings was whether the death was accidental, the company claiming suicide.

Held:

1. That the burden was upon the plaintiff to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the death was accidental. P. 303 U. S. 171.

2. The presumption that the death was due to accident, rather than suicide, lost its application to the case when evidence was introduced sufficient to sustain a finding that death was not due to accident. Id.

3. This presumption requiring the inference of accident, rather than suicide, in a case of violent death is a rule of law; it is not evidence, and may not be given the weight of evidence. Id.

Travelers' Insurance Co. v. McConkey,127 U. S. 661, distinguished.

90 F.2d 817 reversed.

Certiorari, 302 U.S. 670, to review the affirmance of a judgment recovered by the present respondent in an action on a life insurance policy. See also 76 F.2d 543.

Page 303 U. S. 165

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