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SEELIG v. ST. PAUL FIRE & MARINE INS. CO.

January 16, 1953

SEELIG et al.
v.
ST. PAUL FIRE & MARINE INS. CO. (LEVIN, third-party defendant)



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BYERS

This is an action upon a so-called Jewelers' Block Policy, but what the adjective means has not been explained; its office may be merely to preserve the cryptic traditions of the calling pursued by underwriters.

The case was tried January 5 and 6, 1953, and decision is required as to motions not disposed of at the close of the trial.

 The policy covers precious stones, jewelry and precious metals, constituting (a) property of the assured- the plaintiffs- (b) that of others entrusted to them 'who are not dealers in such property or not otherwise engaged in the jewelry trade,' (c) property of such others 'but only to the extent of the assured's own actual interest therein, because of money actually advanced thereon, or legal liability for loss of or damage thereto.'

 Coverage applies while the property is in any place in the United States or while therein being carried in transit except as limited and excluded, as later to be stated.

 The property involved was that of the plaintiffs, and disappeared while in transit, namely, from an automobile owned and driven by one Levin, a commission salesman for the plaintiffs.

 The quotation for decision was thought probably to turn upon the legal relationship between the plaintiffs and Levin as it may be deemed to have affected the engagements of the parties to the contract in suit. That question however disappears, as I shall try to show.

 The occasion for decision was the removal from the trunk of Levin's car, of about $ 7,500 worth of jewelry, contained in two telescope bags which he had placed therein. He had delivered the car to a representative of the garage which was the usual place for the storage of automobiles driven by guests of the Hotel St. Francis, Canton, Ohio, in the late afternoon of April 19, 1949 at about 5:30 to 6:00 P.M. He had tested the handle of the trunk just before making the delivery, and found that it was locked, the only key being in his possession.

 The limitation above referred to is in the following form:

 'The maximum liability of this company for any loss in respect to:

 '1. (Outside limit). Property in transit by express or first class registered mail (or air mail or air express, if endorsed hereon and not otherwise limited) or which is deposited in the vault of a bank or safe deposit company or which is in the possession of a dealer in property described herein not employed by or associated with the assured, is limited to $ 20,000.00. (Italics supplied.)

 '2. (Travel limit). Property elsewhere than at the premises of the assured (not included in clause 1 above) is limited to $ 5,000.00.'

 For convenience, the foregoing in lowest applicable terms can be rendered thus:

 'The maximum liability of this company for any loss in respect to:

 '1. Property * * * which is in the possession of a customer or in the custody of a dealer * * * not employed by or associated with the ...


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