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Action on insurance policy; summary judgment, etc. Hall Superior Court. Before Judge Kelley.
1. An insurance company has the burden of proof when it relies on an exclusion in a policy.
2. In a summary judgment case, this court cannot consider the credibility of a witness (or his affidavit) unless the issue was raised before the trial court.
This is a summary judgment proceeding on a life insurance policy in which the defendant insurance company invokes an exclusion. The policy insured the deceased against accidental death only and provided: "Exceptions: No indemnity for death by accidental means shall be payable if death results (c) from injuries intentionally inflicted upon the insured by himself, while sane or insane, or by any other person other than burglars or robbers . . ." The petition alleged an accidental shooting of the insured in "a playful manner." Both parties moved for a summary judgment attaching affidavits, and plaintiff demurred to defendant's motion. The plaintiff's demurrer to defendant's motion was overruled and summary judgment granted for defendant.
2. Does any "material issue of fact" remain? Code Ann. 110-1201. Plaintiff filed affidavits in support of her motion and in opposition to defendant's. These affidavits establish nothing to contradict the Davis affidavit other than to set out that someone other than the affiant testified on Davis' commitment hearing that no gun was found near the body of the deceased. Therefore, the only matter that may appear as to why the defendant's summary judgment should not be affirmed would seem to be the question of the credibility of Davis in the light of his possible self-interest in making the affidavit.
The question of the credibility of witnesses and the related right of cross-examination is a murky area of the summary judgment law with conflicting concepts in hostile array. Cases like this, having as an essential factor the state of mind or intent of a person, are difficult of solution. However, this issue was not raised in the trial court, as it might have been, under Code Ann. 110-1206, which procedure would have invoked the court's discretion. McCarty v. National Life &c. Ins. Co., 107 Ga. App. 178 (129 SE2d 408); Accord: 6 Moore, Federal Practice (2d Ed. 1953) p. 2344, 56.24. This failure would not bar the trial court from denying a summary judgment, since denial is never appealable, but plaintiff cannot wait until the case reaches this level before raising the issue, Dyer v. McDougall, 201 F2d 264 (2d Cir.); 6 Moore, Federal Practice, supra, at p. 2350, 56.24; 3 Barron & Holtzoff, Federal Practice & Procedure (1958 Rev.) p. 176, 1239.
There having been no issue invoked as to the credibility of the witness, the trial court properly granted summary judgment for the defendant on the basis of the affidavit.
3. Since the motion for summary judgment was good, the general demurrer thereto was properly overruled (assuming a general demurrer to a motion for summary judgment would lie).
Wheeler, Robinson & Thompson, B. Carl Buice, contra.
Howard T. Oliver, Jr., for plaintiff in error.
Friday May 22 22:11 EDT

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