Insurance Company v. Harris
97 U.S. 331 (1877)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Insurance Company v. Harris, 97 U.S. 331 (1877)

Insurance Company v. Harris

97 U.S. 331

Syllabus

Assumpsit against an insurance company upon a life policy. Plea, non assumpsit, with an agreement that either party might introduce any matter in evidence which would be legally admissible if it had been specially pleaded. Leave was subsequently granted the defendant to file a plea of plus darrein continuance. There was also an agreement which provided for the admission of the record of a suit in equity then pending in the supreme court of New York, whereto the parties hereto, and others claiming the benefit of the policy, were parties, and stipulated that any further proceedings therein might be filed as a part of the agreement at any time before the trial of this action. A decree was rendered by said court November 26, that the company pay the full amount of the policy to the credit of the suit, for the benefit of such of the other parties as should be found to be thereunto entitled, and that upon such payment the company be released and discharged from further liability on said policy, and that the several claimants be enjoined from suing thereon. The amount was thereupon forthwith paid into court. On the 25th of November, the plaintiff stated his case, whereupon the hearing was postponed until the 29th of that month, when the defendant, no evidence having as yet been submitted, filed with the clerk of the court a duly certified transcript of said decree. On the trial, leave was refused the defendant to set up the matter of that suit and decree by way of plea, or put it in evidence, under the agreement. Held that the decree was a final determination of the claim of the plaintiff below, and should have been admitted as matter of evidence, having the same force and effect in a court of the United States as in the courts of New York.

On the 9th of September, 1872, two actions were brought by the assignee of William H. Brune, against The Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, on two policies issued by it in January of that year, in the name of said Brune, on the life of John S. Barry. Barry died in March, 1872. By consent, the actions were consolidated and tried together. The defendant pleaded the general issue, and the parties agreed that either of them might offer in evidence any matter that would be admissible if it had been specially pleaded, and leave was subsequently granted the defendant to file a plea of puis darrein continuance. There was also an agreement which provided for the admission of certain papers and records, and stipulated that any further proceedings in a then pending suit, commenced April 4, 1872, in the supreme court for the City and County of

Page 97 U. S. 332

New York, by Rosalie C. Barry, widow of said John, against said company, said Brune and his assignee, which either party should deem material, might be filed as a part of the agreement at any time before the trial. The matter involved in that suit, and the decree which was rendered therein by the said court Nov. 26, 1873, are set out in the opinion of this Court.

The issue was by stipulation submitted for trial to the court. On the 25th of November, the plaintiff below stated his case, but, before any evidence was given, further action in the premises was postponed until the 29th of that month, when the defendant, before the plaintiff had submitted any evidence, filed with the clerk of the court a duly certified transcript of said decree.

On the trial, the defendant asked leave to set up the matter of that suit and decree by way of plea, or put it in evidence, under the agreement, but the court refused the leave, and the defendant excepted.

Judgment was rendered in favor of the plaintiff for the amount of the policies, and the defendant sued out this writ and assigned for error that the court below erred: 1, in its refusal to grant the leave asked for, and 2, in rendering judgment for the plaintiff upon the agreed statement of facts.

Whitridge, the original assignee, having died, Harris, the defendant in error, was substituted in his stead.

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