« AnteriorContinuar »
Counsel for Parties.
and still tenders her, the amount of such paid-up policy, which she declined, and still declines.
On the 11th of May, 1891, Cravens was fifty-three years old, “and the term of temporary insurance procured at that date by three fourths of the net value of the policy, taken as a single premium for the amount written in the policy, was six years and forty-six days from the 11th day of May, 1891, making said policy, if subject to said extended insurance, in force at the death of the said Cravens."
The defendant in error claims under the policy $10,000, less the amount of unpaid premiums, with interest thereon, which left a balance of $8749.21, with interest at six per cent from November 30, 1892. The plaintiff in error admitted and offered to pay the sum of $2670, which plaintiff in error declined to receive.
The trial court rendered a judgment for the plaintiff (defendant in error) for the sum of $2670.
On appeal to the Supreme Court of the State the judgment was reversed, and the case was remanded with directions to enter judgment for plaintiff (defendant in error) for the sum of $8749.21, with interest at six per cent from November 30, 1892.
The case was then brought here.
It is urged as error against the judginent of the Supreme Court of the State that it makes the law of Missouri and not the law of New York the law of the contract, as provided in the application for the policy, thereby denying to the plaintiff in error a contractual liberty without due process of law, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States; and that the statute of Missouri is an attempted regulation of interstate commerce.
Mr. Frederick N. Judson for plaintiff in error. Mr. George W. Hubbell was on his brief.
Mr. William B. C. Brown for defendant in error. Mr. J. V. C. Carnes and Mr. James H. Cravens were on his brief.
Opinion of the Court.
MR. JUSTICE McKenna after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.
The plaintiff in error presents its contentions in many forms, but they are all reducible to one, to wit, that the statute of Missouri has been decided to supersede the terms of the policy, and to be the rule and measure of the rights and obligations of the parties, notwithstanding the application for the policy declares “ that the entire contract contained in the said policy and in this application, taken together, shall be construed and interpreted as a whole and in each of its parts and obligations, according to the laws of the State of New York, the place of the contract being expressly agreed to be the principal office of the said company, in the city of New York."
What, then, is the meaning of the Missouri statute, or, rather, wbat meaning did the Supreme Court declare it to have?
It declared that the statute did not bave the meaning the trial court decided it to have. In other words, it declared that the policy did not come within the exception of the statute providing for paid-up insurance, in lieu of temporary insurance, which was one of the contentions of the plaintiff in error, and on account of wbich it had tendered the sum of $2670, and sustaining which the trial court rendered its judgment.
With this part of the opinion, however, we have no concern. Our review is only invoked of that part of the opinion which decides that the Missouri statute is the law of the policy, and which annuls the provisions of the policy wbich contravene the statute. And even of this part our inquiry is limited. If we are bound by the interpretation of the statute we need not review the reasoning by which that interpretation was reached. And we think we are bound by it.
The court said, though more by inference than by direct expression, that the statute was a condition upon the right of insurance companies to do business in the State.
This conclusion it fortified by the citation of cases, and said (148 Mo. 583):
“Foreign insurance companies which do business in this State do so, not by right, but by grace, and must in so doing con
Opinion of the Court.
form to its laws; they cannot avail themselves of its benefits without bearing its burdens. Moreover, the State may prescribe conditions upon which it will permit foreign insurance com.panies to transact business within its borders or exclude them altogether, and in so doing violates no contractual rights of the company. State v. Stone, 118 Mo. 388; Daggs v. Ins. Co., 136 Mo. 382; S. C. 172 U. S. 557.”
“As the non-forfeiture clause in section 5983 does not come within the exceptions specified in section 5986, it would seem that the provision in the policy with respect to its forfeiture or lapse after being in force three full years, by the non-payment of premiums, is void and of no effect, and that such statutory provision cannot be waived.
* * * * * * * * “It is well settled that the legislature of the State has the power to pass laws regulating and prescribing rules by which foreign insurance companies may do business in this State, and to prohibit them from doing so altogether if inclined. Paul v. Virginia, 8 Wall. 168; State v. Stone, supra; IIooper v. California, 155 U. S. 648; Daggs v. Insurance Co., supra. This case has recently 'been affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States.
“It logically follows that in passing the sections of the statute quoted the legislature did not exceed the powers conferred upon it by the state constitution, and that such legislation is not in conflict with any provision of the Constitution of the United States."
From the Missouri law as thus established, may the plaintiff in error claim exemption by virtue of the Constitution of the United States ?
What the powers of a corporation are in relation to the State of its creation—what the powers of a corporation are in relation to a state where it is permitted to do business, was declared early in the existence of this court, and has been repeated many times since. What those powers are we took occasion to repeat in Waters - Pierce Oil Co. v. The State of Texas, decided at the present term. 177 U. S. 28.
Opinion of the Court.
The case arose from a liberty of contract asserted by the Waters-Pierce Oil Company against certain statutes of the State of Texas prohibiting contracts in restraint of competition in trade. The statute was not only assailed because it took away the liberty of contract, but because it discriminated between persons and classes of persons. The latter ground we declined to consider, because it did not arise on the record. Of the former we said:
“The plaintiff in error is a foreign corporation, and what right of contracting has it in the State of Texas? This is the only inquiry, and it cannot find an answer in the rights of natural persons. It can only find an answer in the rights of corporations and the power of the State over thein. What those rights are and what that power is has often been declared by this court.
“A corporation is the creature of the law, and none of its powers are original. They are precisely what the incorporating act bas made them, and can only be exerted in the manner which that act authorizes. In other words, the State prescribes the purposes of a corporation and the means of executing those purposes. Purposes and means are within the State's control. This is true as to domestic corporations. It has even a broader application to foreign corporations.”
And as the state court had held that the statute was a condition imposed upon the oil company doing business within the State, we said of the statute that, “whatever its limitations were upon the power of contracting, whatever its discriminations were, they became conditions of the permit and were accepted with it."
We stated the exceptions of the rule to be “only cases where a corporation created by one State rests its right to enter another and engage in business therein upon the Federal nature of its business."
Is the plaintiff in error within the exception? If not, the pending controversy must be determined against it.
It is difficult to give counsels' contentions briefly and at the same time clearly, nor are we sure that we can distinguish by precise statement the arguments directed to the invalidity of
Opinion of the Court.
the statute of Missouri as an unconstitutional interference with the contractual liberty of the plaintiff in error, from the arguments which assail the statute as an attempted regulation of commerce between the States. This, however, not on account of any want of clearness in counsel's argument, but on account of the many ways which they have presented and illustrated the argument, and which cannot be noticed in detail without making this opinion too long. We realize the propositions are not the same and should not be confused, though made somewhat dependent upon a common reasoning.
1. A policy of mutual life insurance, it is contended, is an interstate contract, and the parties may choose its "applicatory law.” Instances under the law of usury, instances under private international law, are cited as examples and authority. But if such cases apply at all, they necessarily have limitation in the policy of the State. This is not denied, bụt it is contended that contracting for New York law to the exclusion of Missouri law was "in nowise prejudicial to the interests of the State.of Missouri or violative of its public policy."
But the interests of the State must be deemed to be expressed in its laws. The public policy of the State must be deemed to be authoritatively declared by its courts. Their evidence we cannot oppose by speculations or views of our own.
Nor can such interests and policy be changed by the contract of parties. Against them no intention will be inferred or be permitted to be enforced.
In passing on the statute in controversy we said, by Mr. Justice Gray, in Equitable Life Assurance Society v. Clements, 140 U. S. 226:
“ The manifest object of this statute, as of many statutes regulating the forms of policies of insurance on lives or against fires, is to prevent insurance companies from inserting in their policies conditions of forfeiture or restriction, except so far as the statute permits. The statute is not directory only, or subject to be set aside by the company with the consent of the assured; but it is mandatory and controls the nature and terms of the contract into which the company may induce the assured to enter. This clearly appears from the unequivocal words of command