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CROUSE v. KNIGHTS LIFE INS. CO. OF AMERICA

October 15, 1954

Wilbert CROUSE and Lillian Smitley, Plaintiffs,
v.
The KNIGHTS LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, a corporation, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GOURLEY

This action is based on two life insurance policies by the beneficiaries of the insured.

The defendant has refused payment alleging that defendant's death was suicidal and, therefore, exempt from coverage under provision of said policies.

 The case was administered by jury trial.

 In answer to specific interrogatory the jury found that decedent's death was accidental and found in favor of plaintiffs in the amounts provided by the policies.

 The matters before the court for determination are two-fold:

 1. Motion to set aside the verdict or for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

 2. Motion for new trial.

 Motion to Set Aside the Verdict or for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict

 Plaintiffs' case was premised on the theory that the decedent while suspended from a tree and engaged in shooting sparrows off his roof had met death accidentally. Proof was submitted that decedent was in reasonably good health, that his marital relations were not restrained and reasonably happy, and that he enjoyed good financial stature at time of his death.

 A motion for a directed verdict or judgment notwithstanding the verdict under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, rule 30, 28 U.S.C. raises a question of law only; that is whether there is any evidence which, if believed, would authorize a verdict against the defendant and the trial court in considering such motion does not exercise any discretion but makes only a ruling of law. Marsh v. Illinois Cent. R. Co., 5 Cir., 175 F.2d 498; Grayson v. Deal, D.C., 85 F.Supp. 431.

 In passing upon a motion to set aside a verdict for plaintiff and to enter judgment for the defendant, evidence including all reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom must be resolved in his favor. Waggaman v. General Finance Co. of Philadelphia, Pa., Inc., 3 Cir., 116 F.2d 254; Schad v. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., 3 Cir., 136 F.2d 991; Lukon v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 3 Cir., 131 F.2d 327; Meyonberg v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 3 Cir., 165 F.2d 50; Kraus v. Reading Co., 3 Cir., 167 F.2d 313; O'Brien v. Public Service Taxi Co., 3 Cir., 178 F.2d 211.

 The court cannot concern itself with the credibility of the witnesses or the weight of the evidence. Roth v. Swanson, 8 Cir., 145 F.2d 262.

 The court is not free to reweigh the evidence and set aside the jury's verdict merely because the jury could have drawn different inferences or conclusions, or because the court regards another result as more reasonable. Tennant v. Peoria & P. U. Ry. Co., 321 U.S. 29, 64 S. Ct. 409, 88 L. Ed. 520; Masterson v. Pacific R. Co., 3 Cir., 182 F.2d 793.

 There was ample evidence to require submission to the jury the question whether decedent died as a result ...


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