N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 359

Wednesday, July 9, 1947 (Morning session)

time at law, and in November 1943 the jury found for Mrs. Urback and a judgment was entered.

The insurance company then, after five years of litigation, after three trips to the Court of Errors and Appeals, after three trials at law, after a preliminary hearing in Chancery - after five years' time the $2,500 policy was taken back to the Court of Chancery by the insurance company to have the policy cancelled on the ground of fraud. There was a hearing all over again before a Vice-Chancellor and a trial on the merits, and the Vice-Chancellor decided after hearing the case on the merits that Mrs. Urback was entitled to recover and that there had been no fraud.

The insurance company then again took the case to the Court of Errors and Appeals, and the case was heard in the Court of Errors and Appeals for the fourth time, and the Court of Errors and Appeals affirmed.

So that it took eight years, about equally divided between the two courts, to collect $2,500, three years of which was spent after the final judgment in the court of law. In other words, Mrs. Urback had to go on for three years more to collect her $2,500 - which, parenthetically, she sorely needed - because it was the only policy she had. She had a six-year-old daughter when the case started, and she had to go to work to support the child.

MR. SMITH: How much did the litigation cost Mrs. Urback? How much did she have left of the $2,500 after paying all the expenses?

MR. GAULKIN: She had very little, and the little she had was by reason of the fact that the original attorney was a relative and handled it gratis, and the only one who was paid was the attorney who tried the case and took the case to the Court of Errors and Appeals. And even then, when it came down to geting paid, there just wasn't enough money in the policy to pay for the work and effort. I should judge, roughly, there was about $900 in costs alone involved, some of which was recovered from the insurance company, but the rest of which was not.

MR. PETERSON: Haven't the insurance laws - I know they haven't since 1938, I don't believe they have - haven't the insurance laws been changed so that a policy is incontestable after one or two years?

MR. GAULKIN: Yes, that's right, but these cases which I mentioned were cases in which the death happened within the contestable period - with this exception, however, that I would like to point out, since the question has been raised. A number of cases in the New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals and in the Court of Chancery and in the Circuit Courts have made inroads on the incontestability clause. For example, it has been held in Chuz v

Previous Page in Book ********* Table of Contents *********** Next Page in Book