Thursday, December 26, 2013

Burne v. Franklin Life Insurance Co. case brief

Burne v. Franklin Life Insurance Co. case brief summary
301 A.2d 799 (1973)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant challenged the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County (Pennsylvania) granting appellee's motion for summary judgment in an action, in assumpsit, for the recovery of the double indemnity accidental death benefits of a life insurance policy, of which appellant was the beneficiary.

CASE FACTS
Appellant challenged the order that granted appellee's motion for summary judgment in an action, in assumpsit, for the recovery of double indemnity accidental death benefits of a life insurance policy, of which appellant was the beneficiary. While the policy was in effect, an automobile struck the insured as he crossed a street. From the accident until his death four and half years later, the insured's existence was in a vegetative state. It was conceded that those injuries were the direct and sole cause of death.

DISCUSSION

  • Recovery was not to be forfeited by the arbitrary and unreasonable condition that payment was made only if the victim died within 90 days of the accident. 
  • The exception that payment could not be made while any premium was waived created an ambiguity in the contract, which was read in the light most strongly supporting the insured. 
  • Double indemnity benefits were not precluded. Judgment reversed.

CONCLUSION
The court reversed the judgment and directed summary judgment be entered for appellant because it was obvious that to enforce the 90 day condition would serve only as a trap to appellant or as a means of escape for appellee in case of loss and the policy did not preclude double indemnity benefits.


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