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Tannenbaum v. American Surety Co.

Decided: September 26, 1957.

CHARLES TANNENBAUM, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
AMERICAN SURETY COMPANY OF NEW YORK, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



Clapp, Jayne and Hughes. The opinion of the court was delivered by Clapp, S.j.a.d.

Clapp

This is an action upon an automobile liability insurance policy issued by the defendant to the plaintiff covering the latter's auto. The only question we shall pass upon relates to the significance of the word "business" appearing in a declaration in the policy that the auto is to be used for "pleasure and business."

The plaintiff, a rabbi of Paterson, New Jersey, in addition to attending to his religious duties, conducted a Hebrew school and, during July and August, a day camp on property owned by Ye Shiva in southern New York State. For the transportation of the children between their homes and the camp, not only had a bus been provided, but he also frequently used his own car. One child, while thus being taken from the camp to Paterson in his car, fell from it, and she and her parents brought suit against the present plaintiff, securing a judgment for $750. The insurer denied liability under the policy, and as a result the plaintiff was obliged to pay

the judgment, as well as his attorneys' charge of $250 for their services. Thereupon he brought this action in a county district court to recover the $1,000 thus paid. The court, holding that plaintiff had not established coverage under the policy, gave judgment for the defendant. Plaintiff appeals.

The printed policy was so prepared as to contain certain blanks on the first page, which were filled in in typewriting, as indicated by the words italicized below and by the "X" mark inserted before the phrase "pleasure and business"; this first page bears the title "Declarations," and the agreement of insurance is expressly rested on them:

"Item 1. Name of insured Rabbi Charles Tannenbaum

Address 440 East 36th Street, Paterson,

Passaic County, New Jersey

Occupation of the named insured is Self employed.

Item 5. The purposes for which the automobile is to be used are:

[ x ] Pleasure and Business; [ ] ...


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