June 24, 1896
The case of Mrs. Pauline Stein vs. the Supreme Lodge Knights of Pythias, after being on trial for several days in the United States circuit court at New Orleans, Judge Pariange presiding, resulted in a mistrial last Thursday.
The following facts leading to the institution of the suit are taken from the Times-Democrat:
Prior to June 22, 1895, Simon Stein, the husband of Mrs. Pauline Stein, was running a hotel in Monroe, La. On the day named Sam Blum, who was a brother of Mrs. Stein, and who appears not to have been on very friendly terms with Stein, owing to some trivial differences concerning family affairs, called at Stein’s hotel. Stein was somewhat irritated at Blum’s presence, and spoke to him in an angry tone of voice. Words followed, when Stein struck Blum several times with a stick. At this stage of the row Blum fired three shots at Stein, killing him instantly. Blum was arrested, tried for murder and convicted of manslaughter. A new trial was applied for and granted because the jury that convicted Blum had separated while deliberations on their verdict. Blum has not since been place on trial.
In 1881 Stein had taken out an insurance policy in the Knights of Pythias and had paid all dues up to the time that he was killed. In 1894 it seems the Knights of Pythias amended it’s laws relative to insurance, by inserting a clause which debarred the heirs of those killed while violating the laws of the State from any benefit from the policy which had been carried by the deceased.
After Stein’s death, his widow attempted to collect $3000 due on the policy taken out by her husband. Payment was refused by the agents of the Knights of Pythias on the grounds that Stein had lost his life while engaged in an unlawful act. The point, therefore, upon which the issue hinges is whether Stein was killed while violating the criminal law of the State.