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DEBELLIS v. UNITED BENEFIT LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY (01/05/53)

January 5, 1953

DEBELLIS, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED BENEFIT LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY



Appeals, Nos. 194 and 207, Jan. T., 1952, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas No. 5 of Philadelphia County, June T., 1948, No. 1579, in case of Ernest DeBellis and Terry DeBellis v. United Benefit Life Insurance Company. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

H. P. Abramson, with him Maurice Abrams, for appellants.

John F. Thaete, with him Walter B. Gibbons, for appellee.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey and Musmanno, JJ.

Author: Stearne

[ 372 Pa. Page 208]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ALLEN M. STEARNE

This is an action is assumpsit based on a policy of insurance on the life of Rinaldo Joseph DeBellis, who met death by violence on October 14, 1947. The insurer defended on the theory that the policy was issued in reliance upon false and fraudulent representations of the deceased and was therefore voidable. The jury returned a verdict for defendant. The learned court below dismissed plaintiffs' motions for new trial and for judgment n.o.v.

The principal amount of the policy sued upon was $5,000.00, with provision for double indemnity in case of accidental death. Plaintiffs originally claimed only $5,000.00 but were permitted at trial to amend their complaint to include a demand for the full $10,000.00 on the theory that the death was accidental. The circumstances surrounding the death clearly eliminate any possibility of accident. Decedent's blood-smeared body was found under a railroad bridge in south Philadelphia, stabbed to death, wrapped in a blanket and securely tied.

Following are the portions of the application for insurance alleged to be fraudulent and an analysis of the testimony relevant to each:

" 1. (a) What is your full name? Mr. Rinaldo Joseph DeBellis"

A birth certificate introduced into evidence shows that this undoubtedly was the insured's correct name in his infancy, but he was known to the police and was serving parole under the name "Joseph DiLucas" at the time he executed the insurance application. Defendant complains that the insured fraudulently concealed this and other names by which he was known in connection with criminal activities extending over a period of many years.

[ 372 Pa. Page 209]

"6. (a) What is your present occupation? Salesman. (Describe duties): ...


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