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HORNBAKER v. UNITED STATES

January 26, 1951

HORNBAKER
v.
UNITED STATES et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCVICAR

This is an action by Anna M. Hornbaker, plaintiff, to recover the proceeds of a National Service Life Insurance policy issued in the amount of Ten Thousand Dollars to her deceased husband, Nelson Hornbaker. Plaintiff claims to be the beneficiary of this policy, said claim being contested by the insured's mother, the defendant Eva Hornbaker. The United States of America claims a credit for the amount already paid to the defendant, Eva Hornbaker. The action was tried without a jury, and the Court makes the following Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order.

Findings of Fact.

 1. Plaintiff is Anna M. Hornbaker, a resident of Pitcairn, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

 2. The individual defendant, Eva Hornbaker, resides in Weston, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

 3. Nelson Hornbaker, a resident of Newark, New Jersey, was a member of the United States Army from July 7, 1939 to June 11, 1944, upon which date he was killed in action.

 4. On May 1, 1943, the decedent applied for a National Service Life Insurance policy in the amount of $ 10,000.00, naming as beneficiary his mother, Eva Hornbaker, the individual defendant.

 5. Said policy was granted to decedent as of May 1, 1943.

 6. The plaintiff, Anna M. Hornbaker, married the decedent on July 6, 1943.

 7. The plaintiff and decedent resided together until October, 1943, at which time the decedent was assigned to overseas duty.

 8. During the period that plaintiff and decedent resided together, the decedent informed the plaintiff that he was having his National Service Life Insurance beneficiary changed.

 9. On August 4, 1943, decedent executed United States Army Form W.D., A.G.O. 41 designating his wife, the plaintiff, as the person 'eligible to be my beneficiary'.

 10. United States Army Form W.D., A.G.O. 41 was adopted by the War Department for the purpose of designating the recipient of six months gratuity pay to be granted if death occurred upon active duty, and, as promulgated, had no connection with National Service Life Insurance.

 11. United States Army Form W.D., A.G.O. 41 was headed simply 'Designation of Beneficiary' and was sufficiently ambiguous in context that on several occasions the form was executed for the purpose of changing the designation of beneficiary upon National Service Life Insurance policies.

 12. After decedent was overseas, several letters were written by him addressed to the plaintiff, inquiring whether she had received any notice of his insurance policy, and, in one of these letters, wrote 'I will have to see ...


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