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Audette v. L’Union St. Joseph

    Brief Fact Summary. An insurance company required its sick member to procure a certificate from their physician prior to obtaining any benefits.  A member's doctor refused to issue a certificate.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. "Where one engages for the act of a stranger, he must procure the act to be done, and the refusal of the stranger, without the interference of the other party, is no excuse."

    Facts. The Plaintiff, Malvina Audette, the administratrix of the estate of Luis Audette ("Mr. Audette")(the "Plaintiff"), appeals the lower courts judgment in favor of the Defendant, L'Union St. Joseph (the "Defendant"), an insurance company.  The by laws of the Defendant condition the reception of benefits by its sick members on a physician producing a sworn certificate.  Prior to his death, a physician refused to give Mr. Audette a certificate.

    Issue. Does the Defendant still have to perform even though Mr. Audette's physician refused to issue a sworn certificate after the Defendant's best efforts were used to procure one?

    Held. Yes.  The court observes that the rule is "[w]here one engages for the act of a stranger, he must procure the act to be done, and the refusal of the stranger, without the interference of the other party, is no excuse."  Further, based on [Johnson v. Insurance], the court observed that in a case involving fire insurance, the Plaintiff "was not excused from producing such certificate by showing that he applied to two magistrates for such a certificate in vain, and used his best efforts to procure it, accompanied by proof of the facts which were to be certified to."  The court also recognized this action was brought prematurely because the certificate was not obtained, but the Plaintiff can bring a new writ.

    Discussion. This case demonstrates that if something is a condition rather than a promise, the Plaintiff's abiding by it is a prerequisite to recovery.


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