Essentially, is there a policy interest that overcomes the Full Faith and Credit Clause?

Fauntleroy v. Lum

210 U.S. 230 (1908).


Mississippi will not enforce gambling contracts. Does Mississippi need to enforce a judgment made by Missouri when Missouri misapplied Mississippi law (say that 5 times fast!).


No public policy exception, Missouri’s judgment stands.


Lum owed Fauntleroy money due to some gambling transactions. Together, the parties arbitrated in Mississippi and obtained a judgment that Lum would pay Fauntleroy. The judgment was then obtained in Missouri (because Lum was located there). As Missouri was applying Mississippi law, the court determined that recovery could be maintained. Now, the parties are back in Mississippi to enforce the judgment.

In the Mississippi court to enforce the judgment, the court refused to enforce the judgment because it was a violation of Mississippi law (these types of contracts are criminal and void).


The judgment made in Missouri was valid (there was jurisdiction and the case was resolved on the merits). Thus, the Full Faith and Credit Clause requires Mississippi to enforce the judgment, even though Missouri made a mistake in interpreting Mississippi law.

In other words, there is no public policy exception to the Full Faith and Credit Clause.

However, the dissent argues this holding goes too far, limiting the ability of the states to overcome judgments when there is a severe public policy violation.

Baker v. General Motors Corp.

522 U.S. 222 (1998).


Whether Missouri public policy would overcome the Michigan injunction to allow Elwell to testify.


Elwell was employed by General Motors in Michigan. The two parties fell apart, a lawsuit ensued and settled. As part of the settlement, Elwell was prohibited from providing expert testimony (except for within ongoing litigation in Georgia or if he was compelled to testify) against GM.

Baker was suing GM in Missouri for products liability and subpoenaed Elwell. GM resisted, citing the injunction. However, the district court allowed Elwell to testify because (1) it violates Missouri public policy to not let Elwell testify, and (2) Michigan was free to alter the injunction.

On appeal to the 8th Circuit, they stated that it did not violate Missouri public policy because Missouri had just as strong of an interest in preserving the Full Faith and Credit Clause. Additionally, Michigan had opportunities to alter the injunction, but had declined to do so.


First, the Court says that the injunction does not preclude Elwell’s testimony in Missouri (injunction exception applied). Additionally, the injunction attempted to curtail Missouri’s ability to obtain the testimony it wishes to hear. This is a violation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause. This case is not presenting a policy exception to the Full Faith and Credit clause, just stating that parties cannot limit the ability of another state to gather testimony.

There are three exceptions to the Full Faith and Credit Clause:

  1. Time and manner mechanisms (procedure)
  2. Official acts of the sister state
  3. Interference with litigation (ordering a party to not commence legal action in another jurisdiction).

The Scalia concurrence agues the majority opinion was unnecessarily broad (without going into the Full Faith and Credit Clause) because the injunction can’t bind the Bakers, only Elwell.

Additionally, the Kennedy concurrence agrees with Scalia and is concerned the majority’s exception could lead further exceptions.


  • There is no roving public policy exception to the Full Faith and Credit Clause
  • The Full Faith and Credit Clause applied equally to all types of judgments
  • The only exceptions to Full Faith and Credit are outlined in the three principles above.

Wamsley v. Kodak Mut. Ins. Co.

178 P.3d 102 (Mont. 2008).


North Dakota will not stack insurance policies but Montana would stack.


There was an accident in Montana and the litigation was filed in North Dakota. Wamsley is suing the insurance company and the insurance company sought a declaratory action in North Dakota to say that the plaintiffs could not stack insurance claims to achieve a greater recovery. This was granted in North Dakota.

The litigation then was sent to

Additional Notes

Compare Tenas v. Progressive Preferred Ins. Co., 238 P.3d 860 (Nev. 2008).

Thomas v. Washington Gas Light Co.

448 U.S. 261 (1980).


Whether the Full Faith and Credit Clause prohibits a second state from giving additional workers compensation for the same injury when some compensation has already been obtained in another state.


Reversed, the Full Faith and Credit clause does not prohibit additional recovery.


Thomas was employed by the defendant in DC but did work in Virginia and was injured in Virginia while on the job. He applied for workers comp benefits in Virginia and they were awarded (but limited). DC would also give a supplemental award. So, Thomas sought additional benefits in DC.

The DC administrative court determined that Virginia statute did not preclude additional recovery in DC because it only covered Virginia law. In other words, recovery could be made in Virginia and DC separately, so Virginia cannot bar recovery from within DC. The Fourth Circuit reversed.


Initially, the plurality gives an overview of Magnolia (addition compensation denied) and McCartin (additional compensation granted), and discusses how McCartin carved out Magnolia because there was no “unmistakable language” from the legislature limiting recovery. The Court says this language runs afoul of the Full Faith and Credit Clause, so they need to revisit the doctrine.

Thus, there are three state interests:

  1. Virginia limiting company liability (not controlling).
  2. Both jurisdictions in the injured employee.
  3. Virginia has an interest in having its decisions protected (not infringed because both states had an independent right to decide the issue and both would only apply its law).

For these reasons, the court would reverse.


Although the concurrence agrees with the outcome, the reasoning is faulty because it would allow multiple recoveries outside of workers compensation claims.


The dissent would rely on Magnolia and argues that there is no need to evaluate state interest when considering judgments (rather than the merits) of cases. Basically, this allows a party two opportunities of recovery.


The content contained in this article may contain inaccuracies and is not intended to reflect the opinions, views, beliefs, or practices of any academic professor or publication. Instead, this content is a reflection on the author’s understanding of the law and legal practices.

Will Laursen

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