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U.S. Supreme Court

State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co. v. Coughran, 303 U.S. 485 (1938)

State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co. v. Coughran

No. 519

Argued March 4, 1938

Decided March 28, 1938

303 U.S. 485


1. Upon appeal in a law case tried without a jury, the Circuit Court of Appeals determines whether the findings support the judgment, but cannot review the evidence. P. 303 U. S. 487.

2. An automobile insurance policy provided that the insurance company should not be liable unless the car at the time of accident was being "operated" by the insured, his paid driver, members of his immediate family, or persons acting under his direction, nor if it was being "driven or operated" by any person violating any law as to age or driving license. There was a finding that the accident in question occurred while the car was being operated, with the permission of assured, by his wife, and was caused by her negligence. There was another finding that it occurred while it was being jointly operated by the wife and with her permission, but contrary to the orders of the husband, by a 13-year-old girl, unlicensed and unlicensable under the law of California, who, at the time of the accident, was physically actuating instrumentalities of the automobile other than the means of direction, and that the proximate cause of the collision was the act of the wife in seizing the steering wheel at and immediately preceding the moment of impact.


(1) That the findings are not in conflict; the first refers to the conduct of the wife as the one in authority; the second details what really took place at moment of collision. P. 303 U. S. 491.

One may "operate" an automobile singly or jointly with another.

(2) The risk was not within the policy. P. 303 U. S. 487.

3. A person injured by an automobile in charge of the assured's wife recovered judgment against both of them in an action defended by the husband's insurer under a nonwaiver agreement, and, failing to collect it, sued the insurer. Held that proof that the machine, at the time of the accident, was being operated by the wife and a child jointly, contrary to the husband's orders and contrary to law, was available as a defense under the policy notwithstanding the insurer's failure to disclose it at the other trial. P. 303 U. S. 492.

92 F.2d 239 reversed. chanrobles.com-red

Page 303 U. S. 486

Certiorari, 302 U.S. 679, to review the affirmance of a judgment recovered in an action on a policy of insurance.


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