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Conflict Of Laws Outline

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The territorial approach??Alabama Great Southern Railroad Co v Carroll (Alabama 1892) o D's train injured P. P: Alabama, D: Alabama (operates also in Mississippi and Tennessee), place of injury: Mississippi. o D is liable for employee's tort under Alabama law, not under Mississippi law. o Court applies Mississippi law under place-of-injury rule. o Vested rights notion (Beale) justifies the place-of-injury rule. The right vested where the injury occurred (though tortious negligence might have occurred in Alabama or even Tennessee). o Spillover effect, in that D will be less careful in Mississippi than in Alabama?
o Characterization as an escape device from the territorial approach: is this a contract case (P signed liability waiver) or a tort case?
Milliken v Pratt (Massachusetts 1878) o Ps seek to collect on D's guaranty of her husband's credit. Ps: Maine,
D: Massachusetts, place of contract: offered in Massachusetts, accepted in Maine. o D was incapable of forming a contract under Massachusetts law, not under Maine law. o Court applies Maine law because Maine is perhaps the place of the contract's formation and Massachusetts has since repealed its contract incapacitation law. In re Barrie's Estate (Iowa 1949) o Testatrix executed a will regarding realty. Testatrix: Illinois, place of will: Illinois, situs of immovable property: Iowa. o Will is void under Illinois law, maybe not under Iowa law. o Court applies Iowa law under situs rule (traditionally applied to immovable property). o Movable property is usually governed by the law of the testator's domicile. Traditional rules also favor a situs rule for inter vivos property transactions but a domicile rule for bequests. White v Tennant (West Virginia 1888) o Decedent died intestate. Decedent: Pennsylvania, though he returned to West Virginia shortly before he died. o Widow inherits decedent's estate under West Virginia law, but takes only 50 percent under Pennsylvania law. o Court applies Pennsylvania law: decedent had abandoned his West Virginia residence with intent to remain in Pennsylvania indefinitely. Levy v Daniels' U-Drive Auto Renting Co (Connecticut 1928) o P was injured by a car accident with a third party, who had rented the car from D. P: Connecticut, D: Connecticut, place of injury: Massachusetts, place of contract: Connecticut.

D is liable for lessee's negligence under Connecticut law, not under Massachusetts law. o Court applies Connecticut law, characterizing this as a contract rather than a tort case. o Interest analysis: Connecticut legislature probably intended to promote safety on Connecticut highways, not to protect Connecticut drivers on Massachusetts highways. This is a real departure from Carroll, in which the duty of care does not follow D across state borders. o Because Connecticut's statute appears to be an absolute rather than default rule, D probably could not have avoided this result by inserting a Massachusetts choice-of-law provision into its rental contract. Haumschild v Continental Casualty Co (Wisconsin 1959) o P sues her husband for personal injuries in a car accident. P: Wisconsin, D: Wisconsin, place of injury: California. o California retains interspousal tort immunity; Wisconsin does not. o Court applies Wisconsin law, holding that disabilities to sue and immunities from suit because of a family relationship should fall under law of the domicile. Grant v McAuliffe (California 1953) (Traynor) o Ps were injured in a car accident (D is administrator of the negligent driver's estate). Ps: California, D: California, place of injury: Arizona. o California allows negligent tort actions to survive the tortfeasor's death; Arizona does not, requiring that suits not brought prior to his death must be dismissed. o Court applies California law, holding that dismissal or maintenance of the action is a procedural question and thus that forum law governs it. In essence, California's statute functions as a lengthened statute of limitations. o Dissent: California's statute creates a right or cause of action that would not otherwise exist, and is therefore substantive. o Is the court actually engaging in interest analysis, since both parties are from California?
Bournias v Atlantic Maritime Co (2d Cir 1955) (Harlan) o P, sailor, brings complaint under both Panama Labor Code and US federal law. o Panama prescribes a one-year statute of limitations, outside of which this complaint fell; US law does not. o Court applies US (forum) law, as statutes of limitations are procedural unless they create a new liability. In re Schneider's Estate (New York 1950) o Testator attempted to dispose of realty, which has been liquidated; who has title to the proceeds? Testator: New York, situs: Switzerland. o Swiss law entitles heirs to specified fractions of the realty; New York law permits testator to freely alienate his land. o??

Court applies Swiss choice-of-law rule (renvoi), and finds that Swiss courts would defer to the internal law of testator's domicile, New York (internal law is the law which would be applied to a domestic New York case). o Beale urges courts to reject the renvoi: only the forum's choice-of-law rules could be valid. o Law of the situs is applied here because the property was immovable at the time of testator's death, even though it is now movable (the realty having been liquidated). Loucks v Standard Oil Co of New York (New York 1918) (Cardozo) o Intestate died in a car accident due to the negligence of D's employee.
P: New York, D: New York, place of injury: Massachusetts. o Massachusetts caps damages; New York does not. o Court applies Massachusetts law, basically endorsing the vested rights approach and noting that Massachusetts's damages cap is not abhorrent to the public policy of New York (both states compensate automobile victims, for example). o Would the result be different if the ceiling were shockingly low? In that case, the court could either dismiss the case, forcing Ps to file in Massachusetts, or apply forum law, allowing higher damages. Vested rights approach would obviously favor Massachusetts law, but most modern courts would apply forum law instead in a situation like that. Mertz v Mertz (New York 1936) o Similar fact pattern to Haumschild. P: New York, D: New York, place of injury: Connecticut. o New York retains interspousal immunity; Connecticut does not. o Court applies New York law: where a party seeks to enforce a foreign cause of action, he can avail himself only of the remedies provided by forum law. o Dissent: Nothing in Connecticut's abrogation of the judicial doctrine of interspousal immunity offends New York's public policy. Holzer v Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft (New York 1938) o P seeks to recover for his inability to perform his part of a contract. P: Germany, D: Germany, place of injury: Germany. o German law requires D to compensate P should he die or become unable to perform a contract, but also requires D to fire P for being Jewish. P argues that Nazi policies are against New York's public policy. o Court applies German law and dismisses: it cannot be against the public policy of this state to hold nationals to the contracts which they have made in their own country to be performed there according to its laws. Walton v Arabian American Oil Co (2d Cir 1956) o P was injured in a car collision. P: Arkansas, D: Delaware/New York (operates in Saudi Arabia), place of injury: Saudi Arabia. o??

D might be liable for its negligence under New York law; neither party alleges anything about Saudi law. o Court remands, asking parties to plead the applicable Saudi law, if there be any. o Beale: foreign law is a question of fact in the forum court. o Today, foreign law is not treated as a pure factual question, and is presumed to govern absent a persuasive allegation that it should not. Marek v Chesny (US 1985) o FRCP 68 requires P to pay costs incurred after D offered before trial that judgment be taken against himself with costs. 42 USC SS 1988 creates a presumption in favor of awarding fees to a prevailing civil rights P. o These laws are not incompatible; Rule 68 encourages settlements, while SS 1988 encourages Ps to bring meritorious civil rights suits. oModern approaches?Tooker v Lopez (New York 1969) o P sues for the death of his daughter in a car accident. P: New York, D: New York, place of injury: Michigan. o Michigan has a "guest statute" requiring gross negligence to impose liability; New York does not. o Court applies New York law: Michigan has no interest in whether a New York P is denied recovery against a New York D where the car is insured in New York. The parties' temporary placement in Michigan was fortuitous. Schultz v Boy Scouts of America, Inc (New York 1985) o Ps sue for their sons' personal injuries and one's suicide arising from molestation by D's employee. Ps: New Jersey, D: New Jersey, place of injury: New York. o New Jersey recognizes charitable immunity; New York does not. o New York has no significant interest in applying its own law to a dispute between New Jersey residents, especially because charitable immunity is a "loss-allocating" rather than "conduct-regulating" rule. o Dissent: D is no longer a resident of New Jersey, and there can be no doubt that New York has an interest in ensuring that justice be done to nonresidents injured here. o Interest analysis depends on the assumption that the law intends to protect locals only. Otherwise, every false conflict becomes a true conflict. Erwin v Thomas (Oregon 1973) o P sues D for loss of consortium due to her husband's injuries. P: Washington, D: Oregon, place of injury: Washington. o Washington follows the common-law rule that a wife cannot sue for loss of consortium; Oregon's statute allows either spouse to sue.

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