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New York Life Insurance Co. v. Johnson

923 F.2d 279 (1991)

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New York Life Insurance Co. v. Johnson

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

923 F.2d 279 (1991)

Facts

Kirk Johnson purchased a life insurance policy from New York Life Insurance Co. (plaintiff). Kirk’s father, Lawrence Johnson (defendant), was named as the beneficiary. Kirk filled out an application during the purchasing process and stated that he had never smoked cigarettes and had not smoked in the last 12 months. However, those answers were not true. Kirk had been smoking for 13 years and was smoking approximately 10 cigarettes per day in the month when he applied for the coverage. Kirk died a couple of years later, for a reason unrelated to smoking. However, the insurance company investigated and discovered the misrepresentation. The insurance company then denied Lawrence’s claim and filed a declaratory-judgment lawsuit. The insurance company was seeking an order declaring that the life insurance policy was void due to the misrepresentations. The trial court determined that Kirk’s application did contain misrepresentations, but the remedy should be limited to the higher premium that would have been charged by the insurance company. The insurance company appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Debevoise, J.)

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