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AETNA LIFE INS. CO. V. MOSES, 287 U. S. 530 (1933)

U.S. Supreme Court

Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Moses, 287 U.S. 530 (1933)

Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Moses

No. 137

Argued December 8, 1932

Decided January 9, 1933

287 U.S. 530


1. Under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, made applicable to the District of Columbia as a workmen's compensation law, where an employee is killed in the course of his employment by the negligence of a stranger, and the administratrix, being also the sole beneficiary, accepts compensation, there is an implied statutory assignment to the employer of her cause of action for the negligence under the District death statute. P. 287 U. S. 537

2. In such case, the Compensation Act, by implication, gives the employer the same control over the institution of the death action, the compromise and settlement of the claim against the wrongdoer, and the disposition of the proceeds as it gives where the injury results only in disability. P. 287 U. S. 538.

3. Although the Compensation Act does not say that the action for wrongful death may be brought in the name of the employer, this is implied in its purpose to effect a complete transfer of the cause of action, notwithstanding that the common law rule against actions in the names of assignees of choses in action survives in the forum. P. 287 U. S. 540.

Page 287 U. S. 531

4. An insurer under the Compensation Act, though required to pay an award directly, is nevertheless an indemnitor and, to the extent that it has paid, is entitled to be subrogated to the employer's right of recovery against third persons. P. 287 U. S. 541.

5. The employer, being directed by the Act to distribute the proceeds, is the party to bring the action for wrongful death, and may show that it is for the use of the insurer and of the widow and administratrix, according to their beneficial interests. P. 287 U. S. 542.

6. Whether, under Equity Rule 13 of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, the insurer and the widow-administratrix may join in the action for wrongful death as legal plaintiffs this Court does not decide, it being a question of local practice. P. 287 U. S. 543.

61 App.D.C. 74, 57 F.2d 440, reversed.

Certiorari to review the affirmance of a judgment for the defendant in an action for wrongful death. The trial court struck the declaration for misjoinder of parties plaintiff, and entered judgment for the defendants when the plaintiffs elected to stand on the declaration.

Page 287 U. S. 536

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