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in reaching the conclusion that it covered the case of injuries to persons as well as that of injury to goods and merchandise, and that these proceedings were a good defense to the libel.
It follows that the claims of the intervening libellants, Mrs. Blesine and Mrs. Hester, were valid claims under the limited liability act, notwithstanding that there was no lien under the local law, and that there was no error in deducting a moiety of these claims from the amount awarded Springer.
Upon the whole case we are of opinion that the decree of the Circuit Court of Appeals was right, and it is therefore, as to both cases,
THE CHIEF JUSTICE and Mr. Justice PECKHAM dissented.
KNIGHTS OF PYTHIAS v. WITHERS.
ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTI CIRCUIT.
No. 170. Argued March 6, 1900. – Decided April 9, 1900.
By the rules of the beneficial or insurance branch of the Supreme Lodge
Knights of Pythias, persons holding certificates of endowment or insurance were required to make their monthly payments to the Secretary of the subordinate section before the tenth day of each month ; and it was made the duty of the Secretary to forward such monthly payments at once to the Board of Control. If such dues were not received by the Board of Control on or before the last day of the month, all members of the section stood suspended and their certificates forfeited, with the right to regain their privileges if the amounts were paid within thirty days after the suspension of the section; provided, no deaths bad occurred in the meantime. There was a further provision that the section should be responsible to the Board of Control for all moneys collected, and that the officers of the section should be regarded as the agents of the members, and not of the Board of Control. The insured made his payments promptly, but the Secretary of the section delayed the remittance to the Board of Control until the last day of the month, so that such remittance was not receired until the fourth day of the following month. The insured in the meantime died. Held; That the Supreme Lodge having undertaken to Opinion of the Court.
control the Secretary of the section by holding the section responsible for moneys collected, and requiring him to render an account and remit each month, - a matter over which the insured had no control,—he was thereby made the agent of the Supreme Lodge, and that the provision that he should be regarded as the agent of the insured was nugatory, and that the insured having made his payments promptly, his beneficiary was entitled to recover.
This was an action originally begun in the Circuit Court of Hale County, Alabama, by Josephine R. Withers, to recover of the defendant the amount of a certain certificate or policy of insurance upon the life of her husband.
The case was removed to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Middle District of Alabama, upon the petition of the defendant and upon the ground that the Supreme Lodge Knights of Pythias was a corporation organized by act of Congress, and hence that the controversy arose under the Constitution and laws of the United States.
The case was submitted to a jury upon an agreed statement of facts, and the court instructed a verdict for the plaintiff in the sum of three thousand dollars, the amount of the policy, with interest, upon which verdict a judgment was entered for $3392.54. The case was taken by writ of error to the Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the judgment. 59 U. S. App. 177. Whereupon the defendant sued out a writ of error from this court.
The facts, so far as they are material, are stated in the opinion of the court.
Mr. Aldis B. Browne for plaintiff in error. Mr. Alexander Britton and Mr. H. H. Field were on his brief. Mr. Thomas G. Jones and Mr. Charles P. Jones filed a brief for same.
Mr. Edward De Graffenried for defendant in error.
MR. JUSTICE Brown delivered the opinion of the court.
The Supreme Lodge Knights of Pythias is a fraternal and benevolent society, incorporated by an act of Congress of
Opinion of the Court.
June 29, 1894, 28 Stat. 96, as the successor of a former corporation of the same name, organized under an act approved May 5, 1870. The beneficial or insurance branch of the order is known as the endowment rank, which is composed of those members of the order who have taken out benefit certificates. Such members are admitted into local subordinate branches known as Sections. The members of each Section elect their own president and secretary. The endowment rank is governed by a Board of Control whose officers are a president and secretary, and whose place of business is in Chicago. The endowment rank is governed by a constitution and general laws enacted by the Supreme Lodge, and by rules and regulations adopted by the Board of Control and approved by the Supreme Lodge.
On January 1, 1883, Robert W. Withers made application for membership in the endowment rank, and in that application made the following statement: "I hereby agree that I will punctually pay all dues and assessments to which I may become liable, and that I will be governed, and this contract shall be controlled by all the laws, rules and regulations of the order governing this rank, now in force, or that may hereafter be enacted, or submit to the penalties therein contained." His application was accepted, and, after receiving a certificate under the first act of incorporation which he voluntarily surrendered, he received the certificate upon which this action is brought. This certificate recited the original application for membership dated January 1, 1883, the surrender of the former certificate and the application for transfer to the fourth class, which were "made a part of this contract, . . and in consideration of the payment heretofore to the said endowment rank of all monthly payments, as required, and the full compliance with all the laws governing this right, now in force or that may hereafter be enacted, and shall be in good standing under said laws, the sum of $3000 will be paid by the Supreme Lodge, etc., to Josephine R. Withers, wife,
upon due notice and proof of death and good standing in the rank at the time of his death, and it is understood and agreed that any violation of the within mentioned conditions or other
Opinion of the Court.
requirements of the laws in force governing this right shall render this certificate and all claims null and void, and the said Supreme Lodge shall not be liable for the above sum or any
Withers was a member of Section 432, at Greensboro, Alabama, of which one Chadwick was secretary. By the laws of the endowment rank Withers was required to pay $4.90 monthly in accordance with his age and the amount of his endowment.
In January, 1894, defendant adopted and promulgated the following general laws:
“Sec. 4. Monthly payments and dues of members holding certificates of endowment shall be due and payable to the secretary of Section without notice, on the first day of each and every month; and a failure to make such payment on or before the 10th day of each month shall cause, from and after such date, a forfeiture of the certificate of endowment and all right, title and interest such member or his beneficiaries may have in and to the same, and membership shall cease absolutely. In case of such forfeiture, membership may be regained by making application in the form prescribed for new applicants, the payment of required membership fee and surrender of the forfeited certificate. If approved by the medical examiner-in-chief and accepted by the Board of Control, a new certificate shall be issued, and the rating sball hereafter be at the age of nearest birthday to the date of the last application.”
“Sec. 6. The secretary of the Section shall forward to the Board of Control the monthly payments and dues collected immediately after the 10th day of each and every month.
“If such payment and dues are not received by the Board of Control on or before the last day of the same month the Section so failing to pay, and all members thereof, shall stand suspended from membership in the Endowment Rank; and their certificates and all right, title and interest therein shall be forfeited. Notice of such suspension shall be forth with mailed by the Secretary of the Board of Control to the President and Secretary of such Section.
“Provided, that the Section whose membership has forfeited
Opinion of the Court.
their endowment, and whose warrant has been suspended, shall regain all right as a Section, and any surviving members thereof (not less than five) shall regain full rights and privileges held previous to such forfeiture, if within thirty days from suspension of warrant said Section shall pay to the Board of Control the amount of all monthly payments, assessments and dues accrued upon said members."
“SEC. 10. Sections of Endowment Ranks shall be responsible and liable to the Board of Control for all moneys collected by the secretary or other officers from the members for monthly payments, assessments or dues not paid over to the Board within the time and manner prescribed by law. Officers of Sections are the agents of members, and shall in no wise be considered as the agents of the representatives of the Board of Control or of the Endowment Rank or of the Supreme Lodge.”
For over twelve years Withers made his monthly payments as required by law to the secretary of the Section, and the money was regularly remitted to the Board of Control at Chicago. His last payment was made prior to October 10, 1895, as required by section 4, for the dues of that month. As there were a large number of members in the Section, and as their dues were not all collected until the latter part of the month, the secretary of the Section did not send the money to the Board of Control until October 31, when he mailed to the secretary of that board a cheque covering all the amounts due by all the members of the Section for that month. The letter did not leave the post office until the next day, and was received by the Board of Control November 4. No notice was ever mailed by the Board of Control to Withers notifying him of his suspension ; but on November first, as required by section
1 six, the secretary of the Board of Control mailed to Mr. Chadwick, the secretary of the Section at Greensboro, a notice of the suspension of all members thereof, with an intimation that the members of the Section might regain their rights under certain conditions therein named. No notice was mailed to the President of the Section. In view of the technical character of the defence, it is worthy of mention that the Board of Control did not strictly comply with its own regulation in this particular.