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Opinion of the Court.

upon their belief as to what the law is, or to enforce a contract which both parties concluded to abandon.

A single further matter requires notice, and we mention it simply to indicate that we have considered, although we do not decide, the question involved therein: The contract of insurance is a peculiar contract, especially when made with a mutual insurance company, for although in terms a contract with a corporation it is in substance a contract between the insured and all other members of that company. The character of this contract was fully considered and discussed by this court in New York Life Insurance Co. v. Statham, 93 U. S. 24, and to that case we refer without quotation. Now, whether the insurance company, if the law of New York be applicable, could insist upon a forfeiture without giving the notice prescribed by the statutes of that State, and, enforcing it, forfeit all premiums paid, all obligation for the return of the surrender value, all right of the insured by subsequent payments to continue the policy in force, is one question. But it is a very different question whether the executrix of the insured, after his long delinquency in the payment of premiums, can enforce the contract as against the other insured parties, thereby diminishing their interest in the accumulated reserve. Ordinarily no one can enforce a contract unless on his part he performs the stipulated promise, and it may be that this rule is operative in this case. We do not care to decide the question, and only mention it for fear that it should be assumed we had overlooked it. It is a question which may never arise in the future litigation of this case, and until it necessarily arises we do not feel called upon to decide it. For these reasons the judgments of the Court of Appeals of

the Ninth Circuit and of the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Washington are reversed, and the case remanded to the latter court with instructions to award a new trial.

MR. JUSTICE PECKHAM did not sit at the hearing and took no part in the decision of this case.

Statement of the Case.

MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY v. SEARS.

CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH

CIRCUIT.

No. 452. Argued March 14, 15, 1900. - Decided May 28, 1900.

In view of what has been already decided in Mutual Life Insurance Com

pany v. Phinney, ante, 327, the court holds that it is needless to do more than note the fact that, as shown by the answer, after the insured had once defaulted in May, 1892, and a second default had occurred in May, 1893, application was made to him by the company, through its agents, to restore the policy, and that he declined to make any further payments or to continue the policy, and elected to have it terminated, which election was accepted by the company, and the parties to the contract treated it thereafter as abandoned, and that there is nothing in the New York statute (if controlling at all) to prevent the parties from dealing with that as any other contract; and if they choose to abandon it, their action is conclusive.

This, like the case of Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Phinney, ante, 327, just decided, is an action on an insurance policy issued by the company, the premiums on which were unpaid for years before the death of the insured. The facts, as disclosed by the pleadings, (and the case went off on the pleadings, without any testimony,) are that on May 18, 1891, the insurance company issued a policy to Stephen P. Sears, he being the beneficiary named in the policy as well as the insured. He paid the first annual premium and received the policy, but neglected to pay the premium due on May 18, 1892, and all subsequent premiums. IIe lived until March 30, 1898, and thereafter his widow, the plaintiff below, was appointed his executrix. The answer alleged non-payment of the premiums from 1892 onward, and also “that subsequent to the failure of the said Stephen P. Sears to make payment of the said annual premium falling due on said policy, May 18, 1893, and subsequent to the lapsing of said policy for failure to make said payment, and after the said Stephen P. Sears was fully informed and knew that said policy had been by it declared lapsed and

Opinion of the Court.

void for non-payment of premium, this defendant, through its agents, applied to said Stephen P. Sears to make restoration of said policy by making payment of said defaulted premium and having the said policy restored to force, but that said Stephen P. Sears refused to make such payment and refused longer to continue said policy or make any further payments thereon, and then and there elected to have the same terminated, and this defendant, relying upon the said election and determination of said Stephen P. Sears, at all times subsequent thereto treated said policy as lapsed, abandoned and terminated, and relying upon the said conduct of said Sears, abstained from taking any further action or step in relation to said policy, by way of notice or otherwise, in order to effect the cancellation and termination thereof."

A demurrer to this answer was sustained and judgment entered for the plaintiff, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, 97 Fed. Rep. 986, and the case was thereupon brought to this court on certiorari.

Mr. Julien T. Davies and Mr. John B. Allen for petitioner. Mr. Edward Lyman Short and Mr. Frederic D. McKenney were on their brief.

Mr. Stanton Warburton and Mr. Harold Preston for respondent. Mr. Eben Smith was on their brief.

MR. JUSTICE BREWER, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

In view of what has been already decided in the case of Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Phinney, Executrix, ante, 327, it is needless to do more than note the fact that, as shown by the answer, after the insured had once defaulted in May, 1892, and a second default had occurred in May, 1893, application was made to him by the company, through its agents, to restore the policy, and that he declined to make any further payments or to continue the policy, and elected to have it terminated, which election was accepted by the company, and the parties Opinion of the Court.

to the contract treated it thereafter as abandoned. As we held in the prior case, there is nothing in the New York statute (if controlling at all) to prevent the parties from dealing with that as any other contract, and if they chose to abandon it, that action is conclusive.

The judgments of the Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit

and of the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Washington are reversed and the case remanded to the latter court, with instructions to overrule the demurrer to defendant's answer.

MR. JUSTICE PECKHAM did not sit in the hearing and took no part in the decision of this case.

MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY v. HILL.

CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH

CIRCUIT.

No. 453. Argued March 14, 15, 1900. - Decided May 28, 1900.

This case falls within the same rule as Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Phinney, ante, 327, and Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Sears, ante, 345, and is disposed of in the same way.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Mr. Julien T. Davies and Mr. John B. Allen for petitioner. Mr. Edward Lyman Short and Mr. Frederic D. McKenney were on their brief.

Mr. Stanton Warburton and Mr. Harold Preston for respondent. Mr. Eben Smith was on their brief.

MR. JUSTICE BREwer delivered the opinion of the court.

This case resembles the last two decided, in that it was an

Opinion of the Court.

action against the insurance company on a policy whose premiums had not been paid for some years before the death of the insured. The policy was issued April 29, 1886, to George Dana Hill for the benefit of his wife, if living at the time of his death, and if not for the benefit of their children. The insured paid the first annual premium, but none thereafter. He died on December 4, 1890. His wife died before him, and this action was brought in behalf of the children. The answer alleged, among other things —

“That pursuant to the conditions of the said policy, there became and was due to the defendant as a premium upon said policy of insurance on the twenty-ninth day of April, A.D. 1887, the sum of eight hundred and fourteen ($814) dollars, and the said George Dana Hill and the said Ellen Kellogg Hill, bis wife, and each and all of the plaintiffs herein failed, neglected and refused to pay to the defendant, at the time aforesaid, the said sum of eight hundred and fourteen ($814) dollars, or any part thereof, and ever since that time and up to the time of the death of the said George Dana Hill on the fourth day of December, 1890, the said George Dana Hill and the said Ellen Kellogg Hill, his wife, during her lifetime, and each and all of the plaintiffs, neglected and refused to pay to defendant the said sum or any part thereof, or any other sum or other thing of value wbatever, by reason whereof the said policy of insurance became and was on the twenty-ninth day of April, A. D. 1887, according to the conditions aforesaid, void and of no effect.

“That at a time more than one year from the time of the issuance of the policy mentioned in the complaint, and during the lifetime of the said George Dana Hill mentioned in the complaint, it was mutually agreed between the defendant and the said George Dana Hill that the said contract of insurance should be waived, abandoned and rescinded, and the said George Dana Hill and the defendant then by mutual consent waived, abandoned and rescinded the same accordingly, and all their mutual rights and obligations therein and thereunder.

“ This defendant alleges that the said plaintiffs, and each of them, should be, and are, estopped from, and should not be per

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