Bigelow v. Berkshire Life Insurance CompanyAnnotate this Case
93 U.S. 284 (1876)
U.S. Supreme Court
Bigelow v. Berkshire Life Insurance Company, 93 U.S. 284 (1876)
Bigelow v. Berkshire Life Insurance Company
93 U.S. 284
In an action against it upon a policy of life insurance, which provided that it should be null and void if the insured died by suicide, "sane or insane," the company pleaded that he "died from the effects of a pistol wound inflicted upon his person by his own hand, and that he intended, by inflicting such wound, to destroy his own life." Held that a replication setting up that, "at the time when he inflicted said wound, he was of unsound mind and wholly unconscious of his act" is bad.
This is an action on two policies issued by the defendant on the life of Henry W. Bigelow. Each contained a condition in avoidance if the insured should die by suicide, sane or insane, and in such case the company agreed to pay to the party in interest the surrender value of the policy at the time of the death of Bigelow. The defendant pleaded that Bigelow died from the effects of a pistol wound inflicted upon his person by his own hand and that he intended by this means to destroy his life. To this the plaintiffs replied, that Bigelow, at the
time when he inflicted the pistol wound upon his person by his own hand, was of unsound mind and wholly unconscious of the act. A demurrer to this replication was sustained by the court below, and the plaintiffs bring the case here for review.