Northwestern Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. McCue,
223 U.S. 234 (1912)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Northwestern Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. McCue, 223 U.S. 234 (1912)

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company v. McCue

No. 138

Argued December 20, 21, 1911

Decided February 19, 1912

223 U.S. 234


The obligation of a contract depends upon the law of the state where made.

A life insurance policy which, by its terms, does not become a completed contract until delivery on payment of first premium is to be construed as a contract made in the state where the first premium is paid and the policy delivered, notwithstanding a recital that it is to be construed as though made in another state. Equitable Life Society v. Clemens, 140 U. S. 226.

In this case, held that a policy issued by a Wisconsin company on the life of a resident of Virginia, to whom it was delivered in that state on payment of the first premium, is a Virginia contract.

Even though a policy in a mutual life insurance company be a property right, it is the measure of rights of everyone thereunder, and if the owner thereof cannot recover because it would be against public policy to permit a recovery, neither can the innocent heirs of that person recover.

A policy of life insurance, silent on the point, does not cover death by the hand of the law. This is consonant with the rulings of the Virginia courts.

Quaere whether, in a case of this nature, this Court would have to yield to the determination of what a state court has declared to be its public policy.

Quaere what the public policy of the Wisconsin is on the liability of an insurance company for death of the insured by the hand of the law.

167 F. 435 reversed.

The facts, which involve the liability of a life insurance company on a policy on the life of one who came to his death by hanging after conviction and sentence for murder,

Page 223 U. S. 235

and the construction of the policy itself, as well as by what law it is to be construed, are stated in the opinion.

Page 223 U. S. 243

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