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PALMETTO FIRE INS. CO. V. CONN, 272 U. S. 295 (1926)

U.S. Supreme Court

Palmetto Fire Ins. Co. v. Conn, 272 U.S. 295 (1926)

Palmetto Fire Insurance Company v. Conn

Nos. 255, 273, 274, 286, 287

Argued October 11, 1926

Decided October 25, 1926

272 U.S. 295


1. By the terms of a "blanket" contract entered into in Michigan between a South Carolina insurance company and a Michigan sales company, engaged in marketing all the automobiles of a particular make, the insurance company insured future purchasers of the cars against fire and theft; the insurance was to become

Page 272 U. S. 296

automatically effective whenever anyone bought a car and took delivery or a bill of sale, without regard to the wish of the purchaser; the sales company was to make monthly reports to the insurance company of all cars for which insurance was thus provided, and pay premiums accordingly, in Michigan, and the insurance company was to send certificates of insurance to the respective purchases.

Held, that, where such insurance became effective through sales of cars in other states, though sold by distributors and retail dealers who owned them and were not agents of the sales company, laws of those states regulating and taxing insurance were constitutionally applicable to such local transactions, and that the fact that the cost of the insurance was taken up in the price of the cars so sold did not prevent the insurance from being reached. P. 272 U. S. 304.

2. The courts of the United States should not go beyond necessity to instruct officials of a state as to the meaning of a state law. P. 272 U. S. 305.

9 F.2d 202; id., 666; id., 674, affirmed.

The first of these cases is an appeal from an order of the district court refusing an interlocutory injunction in a suit by the Palmetto Fire Ins. Co., a South Carolina corporation, to restrain Conn, the Superintendent of Insurance of Ohio, from revoking the plaintiff's license to do business in Ohio. The other four cases are appeals from like orders in suits brought in Maine and Wisconsin by dealers in automobiles to enjoin the insurance commissioners of those states from sending out letters, etc., accusing the plaintiffs of violating the local insurance laws and announcing publicly that insurance on the cars they sold was void, and to enjoin them from bringing criminal prosecutions, or actions for penalties, or otherwise interfering with the sale of the cars in those two states, respectively. Johnson, Commissioner of Insurance, appellee in Nos. 286 and 287, was substituted in this Court for Smith, his predecessor in office.

Page 272 U. S. 303

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