Houchens v. American Home Assurance Co.

927 F.2d 163, 1991 U.S. App. LEXIS 3259



The Plaintiff has the burden of establishing facts showing the existence of an element essential to the Plaintiff’s case in order to survive the motion of summary judgment.


The Plaintiff, Alice Houchens, is trying to collect on two life insurance policies that were issued by the defendant, American Home Insurance Co. on her husband. He traveled for work and disappeared in 1980. After many years, he was declared dead and there was no indication of what had happened to him.


Is the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, permitting inferences showing equal support for the conclusions of both parties, sufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment?




The court held that the insured did not prove that her husband died by accidental means. Just because the insured was entitled to a presumption that her husband was dead, that did not translate into a presumption that he died accidentally. A jury would have been unable to conclude that the husband died from accidental causes, given the meager evidence surrounding the husband's disappearance. Therefore, there was no error in the district court's order.

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