CAMPBELL V. CRAMPTON.
(Circuit Court, N. D. New York. May 17, 18BO.)
CONTRACT-CAPACITY TO CONTRACT-LAW TO GOVERN.-Where, a con,. tract is made in one state, to be performed in another, the capacity of the parties to make the contract is, as a general rule, to be determined . by the law of the plaee where it is entered into. SAME-AGREEMENT TO MARRY-NEPHEW AND AUNT.-Where a contract for marriage between nephew and aunt was entered into in Alabama, where such marriages were declared incestuous, upon the trial of an action for a breach of such contract in New York the court charged that, if the parties could lawfully marry in New York, and by the terms of their promises they were to be fulfilled by a marriage in New York, the agreement was valid, and damages for the breach of such contract recoverable. Held, erroneous. MARRIAGE-VALIDITY of.-GeneraIIy, a mal'riage valid at the place of solemnization is valid every where. SAME-PLACE' OF PERFORMANcE,-lt is not the mere place of solemniza. tion of a marriage ceremony, but the place where the parties are to be domiciled, that is to be deemed the place of performance of the mar. riage contract. SAME-NEPHEW AND AUNT-CONTRACT TO MARRy.-While, under the laws of the state of New York, a marriage between nephew and aunt may not be voidable for consanguinity, it by no means follows that an agreement to marry between parties so related will be tolerated, or damages be permitted to be recovered for breach thereof.
Ransom If Joyce, for complainant. Wm. Douglas and A. K. Potter, for defendant. WALLACE, D. J. The plaintiff having recovered a verdict for $10,000 for breach of contract of marriage, the defendant now moves for a new trial, alleging error in the rulings upon the trial. The plaintiff is a half-sister of the defendant's mother. She was temporarily residing at Mobile, Alabama, which was the domicile of the defendant, when the marriage engagement took place. Subsequently the plaintiff returned to the state of New York. The evidence authorized the jury to fin4 that at the time of the engagement to marry the parties did not contemplate an early marriage; that it was not until after the plaintiff had removed to the state of New York that any definite plan as to the time or place of the marriage was enterv.21 noA-27
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tained, and that then it was contemplated that the parties should be married at some convenient future time in the state of New York. No question was raised upon the trial of an intent to marry in New York for the purpose of evading the laws of Alabama. By the statutes of Alabama marriage between the son and the sister of his mother is declared to be incestuous and void, and such persons who marry or who cohabit together are declared guilty of crime and punishable by imprisonment. By the statutes of New York marriages between parents and children, including grandparents and grandchildren of every degree, ascending and descending, and between brothers and sisters of the half as well as of the whole blood are declared to be incestuous and absolutely void. The jury were instructed that while the parties could not lawfully contract marriage in the state of Alabama, and the promises for such a marriage would be void, they could lawfully marry in the state of New York; and if, by the terms of their promises of marriage, the promises were to be fulfilled by a marriage in New York, the agreement was valid, and plaintiff, upon proving a breach, could recover damages. If this instruction was erroneous the motion for a new trial must prevail. This ruling involves several novel questions of law, which could not be satisfactorily considered upon the trial. Some of these questions arise under that difficult and perplexing branch of jurisprudence which relates to the conflict of laws of different states, as to which it was well remarked by Porter, J., in Saul v. His Creditors, 17 Mart. (La.) 570: "Our former experience has taught us that questions of this kind are the most embarrassing and difficult of decision that can occupy the attention of those who preside in courts of justice." The first question which the instructions present is whether the agreement of the partiAs is controlled by the law of Ala. bama or by that of New York. As the statute of Alabama declares a marriage between persons related, as are the parties, void and criminal, if the law of Alabama controls, no agreement having such a marriage as its consideration can be
enforced. The ruling upon the trial proceec1ed· up()n the theory that the agreement was governed by the law of New York, because the promises were to be fulfilled in Ne-;v YOlll'w It would seem that the question whether the validity of a contract, made in one place and to be performed in another, is to be determined by the law of the place where the contract is made, or by the law of the place of performance, could not, at this day, be a doubtful or open one. There is, certainly, very high authority to sustain the ruling on the trial. In Story's Conflict of Laws, § 242, the rule, is stated thus: "Generally speaking, the validity of the contract is to be decided by the law of the place where it is made, unless it is to be performed in another country; for, as we shall presently see, in the latter case the law of the place of performance is to govern." Again the learned author says: "The rules already considered suppose that the performance of the contract is to be in the place where it is made, either expressly or by tacit implication. But when the contract is either expressly or to be performed in any other place, then the general rule is in conformity with the presumed intention of the parties that the ,contract, as to its validity, nature, obligation and interpretation, is to Be governed by the law of the place of performance." Conflict of Laws, § 280. In Andrews v. Pond, 13 Peters, 65, the doctrine is briefly stated thus: "The general principle in relation to contracts" made in one place to be executed at another, is well settled. They are governed by the laws of the place of performance." On the other hand, the rule is laid down in a very recent case as follows: "Matters bearing upon the execution, the interpretation, and the validity of a contract are determined by the law of the place where the contract is made. Matters connected with the performance are regulated by the law prevailing at the place of performance. Matters respecting the remedy, such as the bringing of suits, admissibility of evidence, statutes of limitations, depend npon the law of the place where suit is bronght." Scudder v. Union National Bank, lOtto, 406. The question in that case was whether a parol promise made in Illinois to accept a bill payable in
Missouri was a contract governed by the laws of Illinois or Missouri, and it was held to be an Illinois contract, and governed by the law of that state. The court say: "The contract to pay the bill was a different contract from that of acceptance. " The parol promise, being valid by the law of Illinois, was valid everywhere. This was all it was necessary to decide; and while the statement of the general principles of the law relative to contracts made in one state to be performed in another is entitled to great respect, from the high authority of the court from which it was enunciated, it is not controlling upon the present question, and will be found quite inadequate in its application to a great variety of cases which present questiuD.S of the conflict of laws. So far as the validity of a contract depends upon the formalities requisite to its binding force, the general rule expressed by the text writers is that the test depends upon the law of the place where the contract is made. Westlake, art. 175. An illustration is the case of an unstamped contract, made in a country where a stamp is required. Even in this case the authorities conflict, and Judge Story says it might be different if the contract were payable in another country, where no stamp is required. See Story Confl. of Laws, § 260, and notes. Wharton, (Conflict of Laws, 401,) states the general rule thus: "Obligrrtions, in respect to their modes of solemnization, are subject to the locus regit acturn." The validity of a contract may depend upon the capacity of the parties, or the forms of authentication, or the nature of the consideration; and it certainly cannot be accepted as an universal criterion that the validity or invalidity of a contract is to be determined by the law of the place where the contract is made. As respects the capacity of parties the law of domicile may dominate the law of the place of the contract when rights of person as distinct from rights of property are concerned, (see 2 Parsons on. Cont. 572, 574, and notes, 5th Ed.i) and, as respects the consideration matter, a contract may be invalid by the law of the place of the making, because prohibited by the local law, and yet be valid when to be performed in
another place or where brought in question elsewhere. In disposing of the many vexed questions that arise under the qualifications of the general rules the courts are frequently obliged to fall back upon· the principle .that only such claims will be regarded as having a legal foundation as are maintainable in the place where the suit is brought. Wharton, § 401.[oJ In the present case the question arises whether the validity of the contract, as respects the capacity of the parties to it, depends upon the law of Alabama, where the contract was made, or of New York, where it was to be performed. Although the laws of Alabama do not, in terms, incapacitate persons related, as are these parties, from agreeing to marry each other, the statute does incapacitate them from contracting the marriage relation. Neither party could acquire any rights or be subjected to any liabilities by the agreement, because of the statutory disability. To all intents and purposes the agreement was void, because of the disability of the parties by the laws of Alabama, unless it is saved because it was to be performed in New York. As to the capacity of parties to enter into a contract, it must be accepted as the general rule that the law of the place where the contract is made must be the test. Story Conflict of Laws, § 103. The right of every state to prescribe the conditions which determine the personal status of its own citizens is unquestioned. 1 Burge Col. & For. Laws, 196. But the most contradictory opinions prevail as to the extraterritorial operation of these conditions. By some of the authorities it is held that when a statute of domicile confers, abridges or destroys capacity, whether this capacity be generally for the possession of rights or specially for the exercise of business, then such status attaches to the subject wherever he may stray, and is to be regarded as conclusive by all foreign courts. Wharton, § 91; 2 Parsons Cont. (5th Ed.)§ 572; Story, § 65. But the result of the English and American authorities is to the contrary, and the incapacity of the domicile of the party is not permitted to shield him from obligations whicll he could otherwise lawfully assume at the place
where they are Story Conflict of Laws, §§ 101-102; Wharton, § 115. That this contrariety of opinion still exists is shown by a very recent case in England, (Sattomeyer v. De Barros,) decided by the high court of justice,in which Sir James Haunen takes occasion to criticise the views expressed by the lord justices, in the court of appeals, in the same case. Upon an appeal from the decision of Sir R. Pillimore, Sir James Haunen says: "The lord justices appear to have laid down as a principle of law a proposition which was much wider in its terms than was necessary for the determination of the case before them. It is there expressed: 'It is a well-recognized principle of law that the question of personal incapacity to enter into any contract is to be decided by the law of domicile.' And, again: 'As in other contracts, so in that of marriage, personal capacity must depend on the law of domicile." It is, of course, competent for the court of appeals to lay down a principle which, if it forms the basis of the judgment of that court, must, unless it be disclaimed by the house of lords, be binding on all future cases. But I trust I may be permitted, without disrespect, to say that the principle thus laid down has not hitherto been 'well recognized.' On the contrary, it appears to me to be a novel principle, for which, up to the present time, there has been no English authority. What authority there is seems to be distinctly the other way. "This is the case of Meade v. Robm·ts, 3 Exch. 183. The contract on which defendant was sued was made in Scotland. The defence was that the defendant was an infant; but Lord Eldon held the defence bad, sltying: 'If the law of Scotland is that such a contract as the present could not be enforced against an infant, it should have been given in evidence. The law of the country where the contract arose must govern the contract.' Sir E. Simpson, in the case of Schrimshire v. Schrimshire, 2 Cons. 395, when dealing with the subject, says: 'These authorities show that all contracts are to be considered according to the laws of the country where they are made; and the practice of civilized countries has been
CAIfPBELL V. ORUIPTOlf.
conformable to tbis doctrine; and, by the common consent of the nations, bas been so received.' This is the view of the subject which is expressed by Burge, vol. 1, § 4132, and by Story Conff. Laws, § 103; and Sir C. Cresswell, in Simonen v. Mallac, 2 Sw. & Tr. 67, says: 'In contracts the personal competency of individuals to contract has been held to depend on the law of the place where'the contract was made.' If the English reports do not furnish more authority: on the point, it may, as Mr. Westlake has said, in his work on private international law, he referred to its not having been questioned. In the American reports the authorities are numerous, and uniformly support Sir C. Cresswell's statement of the law which I have quoted. I cannot but think, therefore, that the learned lord justices would not desire to base their judgment on so wide a proposition as that which they have laid down with reference to the personal capacity to enter into all contracts." 20 Albany Law Jour. No. 23, 450. Upon principle no reason can be alleged why a contract void for want of capacity of the party at the place where it is made should be held good because it provides that it shall be performed elsewhere, and nothing can be found in any adjudication or .text-book to support such a conclusion. It is a solecism to speak of that transaction as a contract which cannot be a contract because of the inability of the persons to make it such. When the authorities which declare that the obligation, interpretation, nature and validity of a contract made in one place, which is to be performed in another, are to be determined by the la'w of the place of performance, are examined, it will be found that the term "validity" refers to the conditions of the contract, and the extent and nature of its obligation, as to which the agreement will be upheld or defeated, according to the sanction or the prohibitions of the law of the place where the parties have located the transaction. But if it should be conceded that the law of the place of performance of the contract is the law which determines its validity, in all respects, the question then arises whether the
111ace of performance of an agreement to marry is the place 'Where the marriage is to be solemnized, or whether it is not that place where the parties are to reside, and discharge their marital relations. The instructions on the trial assumed that the place of solemnization was the place of performance. The word "marriage" is used in two different senscs: the one denoting the act of entering into the marriage relation; the other the relation it'lelf. In the latter sense it is defined as the civil status of one man and one woman, united in law for lif13, under the obligation to discharge to each other and to the community those duties which the community, by its laws, imposes. 1 Bishop on Marriage and Divorce, § 3. The general rule is, undoubtedly, that a marriage, good by the law of the place of solemnization, is good everywhere. It is unnecessary to refer to the exceptions, such as polygamous or incestuous marriages. The rule rests upon considerations of policy. "Infinite mischief must necessarily arise to the subjects of all nations with respect to legitimacy, successions, and other rights, if the respective laws of different countries were only to be observed as to marriages contracted by the subjects of those countries abroad, and therefore all nations have con!)ented, or are presumed to consent, for the common benefit and advantage, that such marriages shall be good or not, according to the laws of the country' where they are celebrated. By observing this rule few, if any, inconveniences can arise. By disregarding it infinite mischiefs may ensue." Scrimshire v. Scrimshire, 2 Hagg. Cons. 417, 418. The question here is not whethcr the place of solemnization of a marriage controls the stat'/l,s of the parties, but whether the place of solemnization is the place of performance of an agreement to marry. The promise is to enter into a relation to which the state, where the parties are to be domiciled, can attach its own conditions, both as to the creation and duration of the relation. If the parties here contemplated making Alabama their domicile, their promise to marry could not be substantially fulfilled without abandoning their intention; because, in Alabama, they would have been not only social outlaws but criminals.
It cannot be said that the domicile which the parties to an agreement of marriage contemplate is not one of the material elements of the transaction in view. On the contrary, it is of the very essence of the contract; and when it is found that the parties cannot enter into the marriage relation without expatriating themselves, it would seem that either party would be justified in receding from the arrangement. It is, therefore, the most reasonable conclusion that the place where the parties are to be domiciled is the place of performance of the marriage contract; both because the substantial consequences of the act to be performed are fixed by the law of the domicile, and because the presumed intention of the parties to the agreement cannot otherwise be effectuated. It will thus be seen that whether the validity of the agreement depends upon the law of the place where the contract was made, or that of the place where it was to be performed, the ruling at the trial cannot be upheld. If these conclusions are correct it is unnecessary to decide whether or not an agreement to marry between persons related as are the parties is one which will be enforced by the law of this state. But as this point has been fully argued by coun· sel, and will, quite probably, require decision upon another trial, in view of some of the evidenge offered on the former trial, it is proper that it be considered now. It is insisted for the defendant that if the agreement between the parties is a New York contract, yet it cannot be enforced-First, because a marriage between the parties would have been a voidable marriage, which either party could procure to be annulled at any time during the lives of both; and, second, if the marriage would not have been a voidable one, an agreement to marry between persons as are theparties is contrary to public policy, because offensive to decency and the purity of domestic life, and, therefore, will not be enforced. The case is to be considered as though the parties were nephew and aunt; as relatives of the half-blood are, eqtlally with those of the whole blood, included in those degrees of consauguinity within which marriages are deemed incestuous.
Horner v. Horner, 1 Hagg. Cons. 353; Queen v. Brighton, 1 Ell. Bl. & Son, 447; Regina v. Brighton, 1 Best & Smith, 447; People v. Jeuners, 5 Mich. 318; 1 Bishop's Mar. & Divorce, § 317. Marriages between persons in the direct lineal line of consanguinity, and between brothers and sisters in the col· lateral line, are incestuous and void as agaiust the law of nature. Sutten v. Warren, 10 Met. 451; Hiram v. Pierce, 45 Maine, 367; Wightman v. Wightman, 4 John. Ch. 343. In the last-cited case Chancellor Kent expressed the opinion that, in the absence of legislation, it could not be maintained that marriages between persons of a remote degree of consanguinity can be declared void. A marriage between nephew and aunt was prohibited by the canon law of England, and the prohibition was incorporated into various statutes of Henry VIII., and the distinction between void and voidable marriages has become crystallized into the later law of England. Such marriages, while not void, were voidable by the sentence of the ecclesiastical courts pronounced during the life-time of both parties. Whether this distinction has ever obtained in our own country is an open question, but that it haa never obtained in this state is authoritatively settled. The commentators recognize it as a part of the body of law brought to the colonies by our ancestors and adopted by us; but in Burtis v. Burtis, 1 Hopk. 557, the question was exam· ined by the chancellor, in the light of the provincial history of New York, and he concluded that the law of England concerning divorces and matrimonial causes was never adopted in the colony of New York, in fact or practice, and was never the law of the colony; and that the statutes of the state were clearly original regulations, intended to authorize divorces in cases in which no divorce could before be obtained, and he says "to consider them as an adoption of the English law of divorces would be a violent perversion of the language and intention of the legislature." This case is followed by Palmer v. Palmer, 1 Paige, 276, to the effect that the court of chancery had no power to decree a dissolution of the marriage (lontract except in the special cases provided for by statute,
and has never been questioned by the courts of this state. See, also, Perry v. Perry, 2 Paige, 50l. It must be held, therefore, that the consanguinity of the parties would not render their marriage a voidable marriage in this state. But it by no means follows that an agreement to marry between persons thus related will be tolerated. It is one thing to adjudge that after marriage the consanguinity of the parties cannot be invoked to annul the marriage, and quite another to decide whether an agreement for marriage between persons so nearly related should be sanctioned. In the one case the bastardizing of the issue, and the unsettling of successions, would furnish decisive reasons why the marriage should not be annulled. When the parties have not consummated their agreement these reasons cannot apply. Notwithstanding the extensive research of counsel no case has been found which determines whether an agreement for a marriage between a nephew and aunt is obnoxious as contravening morality or public policy. Such marriages are expressly prohibited by the civil law, by the laws of England, and by the statutes of many of our own states. Where such marriages are prohibited the question would not arise, because it would not be attempted to recover damages for the breach of an unlawful contract; and it is not improbable that the has not been presented to the courts of the states where there is no statutory prohibition, because 6uch marriages are felt to be so unnatural and revolting that they have been very rare, and but few persons have been found willing to contemplate such a union. The peculiar circumstances of the present case went far to justify the jury in an attempt to punish the defendant. He was a man of education, a physician of prominence, many years the senior of the plaintiff, and, having overcome her scruples against the engagement, held her to ber promises until she had lost her youth and health, and sacrificed her prospects in life; and the jury, doubtless, were satisfied that she brought this action rather to punish him for his selfish and dishonorable treatment than to obtain pecuniary recompense for her own injury. These considerations, of course,
can have no influence here, and her case must stand or fall
'by the inflexible rules whioh, while they may be harsh in the
particular case, are, nevertheless, the universal test. The fact that marriages between persons so related are so commonly prohibited by legislation in those oommunities which are among the most advanced in moral and intellect· ual progress, must be deemed high evidence of the generally prevailing sentiment on the subject. Whether this senti. ment finds its origin in the mandate of divine law or the belief that such unions are a violation of the physical laws of nature, or in the oonviction that to tolerate suoh alliances would impair the peaoe of families and lead to domestic licentiousness, its existence must be aoknowledged, and traced to some or all of these sources. The statutes of Henry VIII., prohibiting such marriages, are but a re-affirmation of the Levitioallaw. Regina v. Chad· wick, 12 Eng. Jurist, 174. While the Levitical law is not binding as a rule of municipal obedienoe, it has been judicially declared to be a moral prohibition, and as such bind· ing upon all mankind, (Harrison v. Buswell, :& Vent. 9,) and is now incorporated into the statutes of England by the acts of 5 and 6 William IV., e. 54. In Illinois it is held that such a marriage "is prohibited by the laws of God," within the meaning of a statute of that state. Bonham v. Ba,dgley, :& Gilman, 622. In Parker's Appeal, 44 Penn. St. 309-312, the court, while holding that such a marriage was not void under the laws of Pennsylvania, took occasion to say: "We cannot refrain from stating that such oonnections are destructive of good morals, and should be frowned upon by the community. " Between what degrees of consanguinity the line is to be found, which determines what marriages are unobjectionable and what are not to be tolerated, it is not necessary to decide; but the better opinion would seem to be that marriages should not be sanctioned in any nearer degree than that of cousinsgerman. A marriage between uncle and niece, or nephew and aunt, would certainly shock the sentiment of any enlightened commumty, and this, in the absence of any other test of the
RAMSEY V. PHlENIX INS. CO.
propriety or decency of things, should be accepted as controlling., It can: hardly be doubted that if the parties here had become husband and wife they would have been regarded as joined in an unnatural union, and as victims of a corrupted moral taste, to be pitied and avoided, if not as objects of detestation; and in this view the plaintiff may consider herself fortunate that she has bl:len saved from such a future by the selfish and perfidious conduct of the defendant· .A new trial is granted.
RAMSEY V. THE PH<ENIX INSURANCE COMPANY.
(Cirouit Oourt, No D. New York.
hfSURANCE-EQUITABLE OWNER-INSURABLE INTEREST.-A party in possession of insured premises. under a valid contract for purchase of the same, is the equitable owner, and has an insurable interest therein BAME-SAME-REPRESENTATION A8 TO OWNER8HIP.-It is not a breach of warranty of ownership for such party, upon an application for insurance of such property, to represent that it is his property, although he may not have paid the entire amount of the purchase money. SAME-CO:NDITION8 IN POLICy-REPRESENTATION.-:d.. policy of insur.' ance contained a Ilrovision that if there was any false representlition by the assured as to the condition, situation, or occupancy of thepremislls, omission to make known every fact material to the risk, '*' .. to Or if the propert.y should be sold or transferred, or any change take place in the title or possession, whether by judicial decree, legal process, voluntary transfer or conveyance, or if the assured was not the unconditional and sole owner, or if his interest was not fully stated, the same should be void. The assured was the vendee in possession, under contract of sale; the policy was also made payable to vendor, to the extent of his interest. In an action upon the policy by such vendor, held, that it was not a misrepresentation for such vendee, in applying for such insurance, to represent himself as the owner of such premises. SAME-CHANGE IN OCCUPANCY.-Nor was it a "change of title or possession" for him to have the same occupied by tenants, instead of himself; but that the change thereby contemplated referred to the possessory right, and not mere occupation. SAME-PROOF8 OF LOSS-WAIVER OF DEFECT8 IN.-Imperfections in preliminary proofs are deemed waived by a repudiation of any liability under the policy to the person entitled to demand payment.
WALLACE, D. J. The policy upon which this action was brought insured the dwelling-house of one Zimmer, and the loss was, by the terms of the policy, payable to the plaintiff "as his interest may appear." The policy contains the following conditions: "Any false representation by the assured of the condition, situation or occupancy of the property, or any omission to make known every fact material to the risk, or an overvaluation, or any misrepresentation whatever, either in a written application or otherwise; or if the property be sold or transferred, or any change take place in title or possession, whether by legal process, judicial decree, voluntary transfer or conveyance; or if the assured is not the unconditional and sole owner of the property; or if the interest of the assured in the property, whether as owner, trustee, consignee, factor, mortgagee, . lessee or otherwise, is not truly stated in this policy, then, and in every such case, this policy shall be void." After the policy was issued, and before the loss, Zimmer failed to make payments according to his contract with plaintiff, and moved out of the dwelling. The dwelling was thereafter occupied by tenants. The question of fact was submitted to the jury whether Zimmer had surrendered or abandoned his cOl!tract to the plaintiff, with instructions that if there had been such surrender or abandonment the plaintiff could not recover. The jury found there had been no surrender or abandonment, and, by implication, that the tenants who occupied the premises were Zimmer's tenants. A verdict having been found for the plaintiff, the defendant now moves for a new trial. It is insisted for the defendant that the policy is void because Zimmer was simply a vendee in possession of the premises under an executory contract to purchase of the plaintiff when the policy issued, and, therefore, "not the unconditional and sole owner of the property," within the condition of the policy. It is also insisted that because Zimmer stated to defendant's agent, at the time of applying for the insurance, that he "wished his house on Porter street insured," without stating specifically the nature of his interest, there was an
BAMSEY V. PH<ENIX INS. CO.
"omission to make known every fact material to the risk," within the conditions which render the policy void. The objections to plaintiff's right to recover may be considered together, and may be disposed of by the answer that Zimmer was the equitable owner of the property, and was the 'unconditionalowner, except as to the plaintiff, and plaintiff's interest was sufficiently indicated by notice that he had such an interest in the premises that the loss would be payable to him. A party in possession of insured premises under a valid subsisting contract of purchase is the equitable owner, and has an insurable interest, although he has not paid the whole oonsideration money. He is not guilty of a misrepresentation if he represents the house as his when he applies for insurance, and there is no breach of warranty if the house is described as "his dwelling-house" in the policy. The statement and, the state of facts are consistent with each other. There is no misrepresentation, because an intent to deceive cannot be inferred. There is no breach of warranty, because the representation is true in substance. Strong v. Manufrs Ins. Co. 10 Pick. 40; AEtna Fire Ins. Co. v. Tyler, 16 Wend. 385; Davis v. Quincy Mutual Fire Ins. Co. 10 Allen, 113 ; Niblo v. North American Ins. Co. 1 Sandl. 551; Laidlow v. Liverpool, etc., Ins. Co. 13 Grant Ch. 377. It was not incumbent upon Zimmer to make a fuller disclosure of his interest in the premises when he applied for insurance. His failure to do so was not an "omission to make known a fact material to the risk," within the meaning of the policy. This clause in the policy is to be read with the other clauses of which it forms part, aud applying the maxim "noscitur a sociis" the word "omission" is equivalent to concealment in the contemplation of the policy. The cases cited are authorities to the effect that in view of Zimmer's interest as equivalent owner of the premises, in the absence of specific inquiry, he communicated all that was material to the risk, and was not bound to specify the precise extent or nature of his interest. The fact that Zimmer moved out of the dwelling-house and let it to tenants is not a defence
within the condition that avoids the policy "if any change take place in title or possession." The change of possession contemplated is something more than a change of occupation. It is a change effected "by legal process, judicial decree, voluntary transfer, or conveyance;" one which refers to his possessory right, and not to the occupanc·y of the insured. The possession of Zimmer's tenants was his possession, within the meaning of the policy. Finally, it is insisted for defendant that plaintiff should be defeated because the proofs of loss were made and verified by him and not by Zimmer; and, inasmuch as the policy requires the proofs to be made by the insured, a condition precedent to a cause of action on the policy has not been complied with. It is a sufficient answer to this position that the defendant received and retained the proofs of loss served by the plaintiff, at the same time repudiating all liability upon the policy, upon the ground that Zimmer had no interest in the premises at the time of the fire. The plaintiff was the person to whom the whole loss was payable by the terms of the policy, and the proper party to bring an action to recover it. By repudiating any liability under the policy to the person entitled to demand payment, the defendant waived any imperfections in the preliminary proofs. Angell on Insurance, § 24:4.
HUDSON INSURANCr. COMPANY.
(Oircuit Oourt, D. New Hampshire.
fNSURANCE-PIWPOSITION FOR CANCELLATION OF RISK-CONDITIONAL ACCEPTANcE.-An insurance agent proposed as to a certain risk to cancel the policy in whole or in part, place the risk in another company named, or return the premium. The agent of the insured returned the policy to him, directing that the risk be placed in the company named. The insurance agent wrote "cancelled" upon the policy, but before reinsuring, the building was destroyed. Held, that as the condition upon which the cancellation was authorized had not been complied with, the insurance company could not insist upon the attempted cancellation aa . frOID: \iability.