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Legal Memorandum: Definition of "Hyperliteral"

Issue: Is there an established definition of the term "hyperliteral" in the insurance context?

Area of Law: Insurance Law
Keywords: Hyperliteral; Insurance
Jurisdiction: Vermont
Cited Cases: 388 A.2d 403
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 05/01/2007

There is no definition of the term “hyper-literal.”   The term has been used pejoratively to mean that a phrase should be construed to mean just what it says.  The Vermont Supreme Court finds no problem with this approach and has said that an instrument “should be read to mean just what it says.”   Furlon v. Haystack Mountain Ski Area, Inc., 136 Vt. 266, 388 A.2d 403, 405 (1978).

The general rule in Vermont, as elsewhere, is that  written instruments are to be construed “according to their express terms.”  Page v. Lyle H. Hall, Inc., 125 Vt. 275, 214 A.2d 459, 461 (1965).  No part of an instrument is to be ignored or regarded as mere “surplusage”.  Furlon, 388 A.2d at 405 (“We should avoid constructions which render ineffectual the language of a contract.”). 

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