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U.S. Supreme Court

Connecticut Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Union Trust Co., 112 U.S. 250 (1884)

Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Union Trust Company

Argued October 20, 1884

Decided November 17, 1884

112 U.S. 250


The provision in the New York Civil Code that

"A person duly authorized to practice physic or surgery shall not be allowed to disclose any information which he acquired in attending a patient, in a professional capacity, and which was necessary to enable him to act in that capacity"

is obligatory upon the courts of the United States, sitting within that state, in trials at common law.

Section 721 of the Revised Statutes, declaring that

"The laws of the several states, except where the Constitution, treaties, and statutes of the United States otherwise require or provide, shall be regarded as rules of decision, in trials at common law in the courts of the United States, in cases where they apply"

relates to the nature and principles of evidence and also to competency of witnesses except as the latter subject may be regulated by specific provisions of the statutes of the United States.

To the question in an application for insurance upon life whether the applicant had ever had the disease of "affection of the liver," the answer was "No." Held that the answer was a fair and true one within the meaning of the contract if the insured had never had an affection of that organ which amounted to disease -- that is, of a character so well defined and marked as to materially disturb or derange for a time its vital functions; that the question did not require him to state every instance of slight or accidental disorders or ailments, affecting the liver, which left no trace of injury to health, and were unattended by substantial injury or inconvenience or prolonged suffering.

An exception to the modification by the court in its general charge of a particular proposition submitted by one of the parties, without stating specifically the modification to which objection is made, is too vague and indefinite.

An action to recover upon a policy of life insurance. The facts which make the several issues are stated in the opinion of the Court.


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