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U.S. Supreme Court

Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Johnson, 293 U.S. 335 (1934)

Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York v. Johnson

No. 154

Argued November 15, 1934

Decided December 3, 1934

293 U.S. 335


A life insurance policy, issued in Virginia to a resident of that State, provided that, if the insured, before attaining a certain age and while no premium was in default, should furnish the company due proof of his being totally and permanently disabled, the company would grant him specified monthly payments from receipt of such proof through the remainder of his lifetime as long as such disability continued, and would also, after receipt of such proof, waive payment of each premium as it thereafter became due during such disability. Before the expiration of a period of grace allowed for payment of a premium, the insured became totally and permanently disabled, both physically and mentally, to such an extent that he was unable to give notice to the company in advance of default, and thus procure the waiver called for by the policy. The disability persisted until his death.


1. The contract is to be interpreted according to the law of Virginia, where delivery was made. P. 293 U. S. 339.

2. So interpreted, the right to have the premiums waived during the disability was not lost by the failure to give notice, caused by the disability. Id.

3. The question concerns merely the meaning implied in the words of a highly specialized condition, involving no rule of the law merchant or general principle of the law of insurance contracts; it is a doubtful one upon which the courts of the country are divided, and, in deciding it, this Court (though it may have power to do otherwise) will be guided in its decision by the law of the the contract. P. 293 U. S. 339.

70 F.2d 41 affirmed. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 293 U. S. 336

Certiorari to review a judgment which reversed a judgment on a verdict directed by the District Court for the Insurance Company in an action on a life insurance policy.

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