Definition of DESTROY in Black's Law Dictionary 4th Edition – Legal dictionary – Glossary of legal terms.

Definition of DESTROY

As used in policies of insurance, leases, and in maritime law, and under various statutes, this term is often applied to an act which renders the subject useless for its intended purpose, though it does not literally demolish or annihilate it. Davis v. Parker, 200 Ky. 847, 255 S.W. 836 (leased buildings) ; Louisville & N. R. Co. v. Commonwealth, 190 Ky. 78, 226 S.W. 113, 117 (railroad station) ; George v. McManus, 27 Cal.App. 414, 150 P. 73, 74 (automobile).

To "destroy" a vessel within the meaning of an act of congress means to unfit the vessel for service, beyond the hope of recovery by ordinary means. U. S. v. Johns, 1 Wash.C.C. 363, Fed.Cas.No.15,481; U. S. v. Johns, 4 Dall. 412, 1 L. Ed. 888.

The contents of a glass and bottle, emptied into a pail of water immediately when accused saw two uniformed police officers enter his building, are "destroyed" within the meaning of a statute making it unlawful to secrete or destroy any fluids on premises being searched for the purpose of preventing seizure. Pitkunas v. State, 183 Wis. 90, 197 N.W. 191, 192.

Land covered by spoil dirt from drainage channel is destroyed within constitutional provision that land destroyed for drainage purposes shall be paid for at a price not to exceed assessed value for preceding year. Scott v. Red River-Bayou Pierre Levee & Drainage Dist. of Louisiana, La.App., 7 So.2d 429, 433.

In relation to wills, contracts, and other documents, the term "destroy" does not import the annihilation of the instrument or its resolution into other forms of matter, but a destruction of its legal efficacy, which may be by cancellation, obliterating, tearing into fragments, etc. In re Kapp's Estate, 317 Pa. 253, 176 A. 501, 502.

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