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PARRISH v. EQUITABLE LIFE ASSURANCE SOCIETY (04/01/54)

April 1, 1954

PARRISH
v.
THE EQUITABLE LIFE ASSURANCE SOCIETY, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 18, Jan. T., 1954, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Centre County, Feb. T., 1952, No. 108, in case of Gladys Wilburn Parrish v. Equitable Life Assurance Society of U.S. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Thomas Lewis Jones, for appellant.

David L. Baird, with him Thompson & Baird, for appellee.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 376 Pa. Page 612]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

On May 20, 1951, Sylvan G. Parrish, 49 years of age, was found lying on the floor of the bathroom in his home, dead. A swelling on the left side of his head indicated that he had suffered a blow of some kind prior to death. His widow, Gladys W. Parrish, the plaintiff in this case, applied to the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, for double indemnity benefits on two insurance policies of $5,000

[ 376 Pa. Page 613]

    each taken out by the deceased in 1928. The insurance company refusing to pay the sums claimed, Mrs. Parrish entered suit in assumpsit and recovered a verdict in the sum of $10,000. The defendant company moved for a new trial and for judgment n.o.v. The refusal of those motions brought the case here on appeal.

The double indemnity provision in the policies reads in part: "Death from accident means death resulting solely from bodily injuries caused directly, exclusively and independently of all other causes by external, violent and purely accidental means and ensuing within 90 days of such injuries, but does not include death resulting from or caused directly or indirectly by self-destruction sane or insane, disease or illness of any kind, physical or mental infirmity..."

This language imposed upon the plaintiff the burden of establishing two things: (1) that the insured's death was the direct result of an accident, and (2) that the evidence of death excluded that any pre-existing illness, malady or infirmity contributed thereto.

These two burdens were successfully carried by the plaintiff to a just and sustainable judgment.

On April 24, 1929, the deceased became ill with a condition described as occlusion of the posterior inferior cerehellar artery on the left side (also referred to as a blood lesion on the medulla oblongata), which brought on symptoms of headaches, nausea, dizziness and inability to walk. After several months of treatment, he made a complete recovery with the exception of an ...


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