Life Insurance Policy – Misrepresentation And Cause Of Death

Dallas and Tarrant County life insurance lawyers should read this case from 1932.  It is important to point out that this case has been disapproved by a later court but the idea behind the case is still relevant to arguing similar facts.  The case is styled, First Texas Prudential Insurance Co. v. John Pipes and is out of the El Paso Court of Appeals.

John Pipes was the beneficiary on a life insurance policy insuring the life of his wife.  When she died, he submitted a claim for benefits and was denied.  Upon trial of the case, judgment was awarded to Pipes and this appeal followed.

First Texas points out that the application for insurance contained the question:  Has life proposed ever suffered from consumption?  The question was answered “No.”  First Texas submits that said answer was false; that the application was signed by Pipes and without the knowledge of the insured; that the uncontroverted evidence shows that if the application for the policy had reflected that the assured had had incipient tuberculosis, though arrested, said application would have been rejected, and that under the evidence the court should have found that said representation was material to the risk as well as false, and, so finding, should render judgment for First Texas.

Dr. Liddell testified:  Knew Mrs. Pipes in her lifetime; attended her in a professional capacity.  In 1929 she had a very mild type of tuberculosis.  It can be completely arrested, apparently cured; it is spoken of as an arrested condition.  The cause of Mrs. Pipes death was coronary thrombosis.  “That is not a condition either caused or aggravated by tuberculosis; it is a clogging, stopping up of one of the blood vessels, usually the left, that supplies the heart with blood, the upper part of the heart, the coronary.”  That is a disease from which some people die instantly and others may be several hours.  Mrs. Pipes died within a few hours.

Others who knew Mrs. Pipes testified in substance that they had never known of Mrs. Pipes having tuberculosis.

This court found there was sufficient evidence to sustain the trial court findings that the disease of which Mrs. Pipes died was in no manner connected with tuberculosis, or resulted from or grew out of it, and that Mrs. Pipes nor her husband knew that Mrs. Pipes had, or ever had had, any symptom of tuberculosis.

This court found no intent to deceive by John Pipes and then cited law which today is found in the Texas Insurance Code, Section 705.004.  This section requires that the insurer prove any misrepresentation in the application for insurance be material to the risk or contributed to the contingency or event on which the policy became due and payable.

There being no evidence of intention misrepresentation and no evidence Mrs. Pipes died of the tuberculosis, the court sustained the trial court findings in favor of John Pipes.


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