19. While Mr. Weiner sustained a 1/4" laceration on his head in a fall at Rolling Hill Hospital on February 8, 1974, it was not sufficient of itself to cause Mr. Weiner's death. (Rolling Hill Hospital Records, D-3A: Progress note dated February 8, 1974, 5:30 p.m.; Aronson Testimony)
20. The fall and the resulting laceration sustained by Mr. Weiner on February 8, 1974, acting in conjunction with a very serious pre-existing and substantial physical infirmity, caused his death. (Gold Testimony)
21. The injury sustained by Mr. Weiner as a result of his fall and cut on his head was not sufficient to cause his death if he had not suffered from serious heart disease. (Gold Testimony; Aronson Testimony)
22. Mr. Weiner's death was not caused solely by external, violent and accidental means as required by the policies. (P-1, page 14; P-2, pages 1-2; P-3, page 2; P-4, page 2; Gold Testimony; Aronson Testimony)
23. The beneficiary gave notice of the injury as required by the three accident policies within a reasonable time after their discovery. (Walsh Testimony)
24. Defendant insurance company having been notified of the insured's death in connection with the life insurance contract with a double indemnity clause and the claim for $120,000 for accidental benefits had an opportunity to make an investigation which would be equally applicable to the three accident policies.
25. Defendant insurance company sustained no prejudice as the result of the delayed notice with respect to the three accident policies.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. This court has jurisdiction over the parties.
2. This court has jurisdiction over the subject matter since the citizenship of the parties is diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000 exclusive of interest and costs.
3. In order to recover "accidental death" benefits under any of the four policies of insurance at issue in this case, plaintiff had the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that Leopold Weiner died solely as the direct result of an accident, and that no other cause, including a pre-existing heart disease, contributed in any way to his death. Real Estate Trust Company of Philadephia v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 340 Pa. 533, 17 A.2d 416 (1941); Rodia v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 354 Pa. 313, 47 A.2d 152 (1946); Lucas v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 339 Pa. 277, 14 A.2d 85 (1940); Roeper v. Monarch Life Ins. Co., 138 Pa. Super. 283, 11 A.2d 184 (1940).
4. It is not sufficient that the fall may have been a cause of death. If Mr. Weiner's heart disease contributed to his death there can be no recovery. Id.
5. Since plaintiff's own evidence, as well as that of the defendant's medical expert, shows that Mr. Weiner probably would not have died as a result of his fall in the absence of his long continued heart disease which would have soon caused his death in the absence of the fall, plaintiff cannot recover under the terms of any of the four policies here involved.
6. Plaintiff's own evidence, as well as that of the defendant, establishes that Mr. Weiner's heart disease contributed to his death. Hence, plaintiff cannot recover under the terms and conditions of any of the four policies here involved.
7. Since plaintiff has failed to sustain her burden of proof, she cannot recover under the terms of any of the four policies in suit.
8. The duly certified copy of the death certificate of Leopold Weiner constitutes prima facie evidence of its contents, including the cause of death and the fact that no accident contributed to his death. Pa. Stat. Ann. Title 35 § 450.810; Rule 803(9), Federal Rules of Evidence.
9. Plaintiff submitted notice of the claims under the three accident policies within a reasonable time after their discovery.
10. Defendant insurance company suffered no prejudice because of the delayed notice.
11. Defendant is entitled to a judgment in its favor and against the plaintiff on the basis of the law and the evidence as to the four policies here involved.
AND NOW, this 30th day of June, 1976, upon consideration of the entire record, the accompanying Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, it is ORDERED that judgment be and is hereby entered in favor of the defendant insurance company and against the plaintiff with respect to each of the four policies.
BY THE COURT:
James H. Gorbey, Judge