Reich v. Purcell

442 P.2d 727 (Cal. 1967).

The Reichs are the plaintiffs while Purcell is the defendant. The Reichs received a disfavorable judgment at trial.


Whose laws will govern, California, Ohio, or Missouri?

Conflict: California would not limit recovery. Ohio would limit recovery to 55,000. Missouri would limit recovery to 25,000.


Ohio is the state that has an interest and therefore will govern. Reversed.


The Reichs were traveling from their home in Ohio to California to look for a home. The Purcells were traveling from California to vacation in Missouri. As they were traveling, the parties collided in Missouri resulting in the death of Mrs. Reich and one of their sons. The other son was injured. As heirs of the estate, Mr. Reich and his son sued the Purcells. Although at the time of the accident the Reichs were domiciled in Ohio, they have since moved to California.


California has no interest because the Reichs were not domicilaries at the time of the crash. So, the question is really whether we apply Missouri or Ohio law. Here the court determines that Ohio law is better because presumably Ohio would have more interest in protecting former domicilaries.

Additional Notes

The problem of after-acquired (after the injury occurred) domicile generally is resolved by saying that the new domicile has no impact on resolving the issue (to avoid forum shopping). However, this may become difficult to follow if the individual involved moves frequently throughout the process or if the new state applies law more strict than the former state.

Whether the court considers the after-acquired domicile is typically going to be case specific and will depend more on whether the party who had a new domicile is the defendant.


Pfau v. Trent Aluminum Co.

263 A.2d 129 (N.J. 1970).


Whether Iowa, New Jersey or Connecticut law applies.

Conflict: Iowa would not allow recovery due to a guest statute while New Jersey and Connecticut would.


Iowa has no interest and the court will not consider the whole law (only substantive law) of Connecticut. Thus, the litigation could be brought in New Jersey.


Plaintiff and defendant were college friends in Iowa. The plaintiff was from Connecticut while the defendant was from New Jersey. While traveling to Missouri for a trip, but still in Iowa, the parties were involved in a car accident.


The defendant is arguing that the plaintiff cannot succeed because recovery is not allowed in Iowa and if the court considers the plaintiff’s domicile in Connecticut, recovery there would not occur because Connecticut applies the law of the wrong (here Iowa). Here, however, the court disagrees saying that analysis is completely contrary to the purposes of conducting interest analysis. Thus, the court will only consider the substantive law of Connecticut. Because Iowa has no interest, and the substantive law of Connecticut and New Jersey are the same, we have a false conflict, thus recovery can be made by applying the laws of the interested state.

Richards v. United States

369 U.S. (1962).

A plane left from Oklahoma and was destined for New York. Unfortunately, due to negligence within Oklahoma, the plane crashed in Missouri. Now, there are several plaintiffs bringing suit against the United States as authorized by a statute. The statute states that recovery can be based out of the state where the wrong occurs. Oklahoma would not limit recovery but its choice of law statutes apply the state where the injury was felt. In Missouri, recovery is limited. So, the question becomes, do we apply the whole law or only substantive law of Oklahoma.

This court determines the whole law of Oklahoma should be considered. Because Oklahoma uses the First restatement, the place of the wrong controls. Therefore, Missouri law will be applied.

Additional Notes

Pfau is an example of how the court does not like to use renvoi with these modern approaches.

However, Richards is used for the

Substance v. Procedure

Just as in the First Restatement, procedural issues are governed by the law of the forum. Substantive issues are those that attempt to affect the behavior or liability of a party and will utilize whichever approach the state utilizes to resolve the issue.

Statute of Limitations

According to the Second Restatement § 142 the forum state will (1) apply their own statute of limitations barring a claim (excepting exceptional circumstances) and (2) will apply their own limitations permitting the claim unless (a) the forum has no substantial interest in the claim and (b) the claim would be barred by another state that has a more significant relationship with the parties.

Ledesma v. Jack Stewart Produce, Inc.

816 F.2d 482 (9th Cir. 1987).


Under the governmental interest analysis, does the running of the statute of limitations in California bar a claim when the statute of limitations has yet to expire in Arizona?


The plaintiff is a resident of California while the defendant is a resident of Arizona and the accident occurred there (other parties involved are residents of Oklahoma and Arkansas). California has a statute of limitations for personal injury of 1 year. Arizona (and the other states) have a statute of limitations for 2 years.


Using the governmental interest approach, the court determines that California has minimal interest in the case because the statute of limitations was designed to help resident defendants. The defendant here is not a resident of California. Conversely, Arizona’s statute of limitations are designed to protect highway safety (thus the longer period). If Arizona’s laws are not enforced, their interest would be greatly diminished. Thus, the court sees fit that California statutes should not apply.

However, the dissent argues that the Restatement (Second) of Conflicts states that no action can be brought if the statute of limitations has run within the forum state.

Global Financial Corp. v. Triarc Corp.

715 N.E.2d 482 (N.E. 1999).


Where did the plaintiff’s cause of action accrue? New York or the plaintiff’s state of residence.

Conflict: New York statute of limitations is 6 years, Delaware is 3 years, and Pennsylvania is 4 years.


The claim is time-barred, affirmed.


The plaintiff (incorporated in Delaware and having a principal place of business in Pennsylvania) offered consulting services for another company and contractually agreed to be paid commissions for investments obtained through that service. When the defendant refused to pay nearly 9 million in commissions, the plaintiff sued just before the New York statute of limitations period.

All of the contract negotiation took place in New York.


First, the plaintiffs wanted to use a groupings of contacts analysis because all the contacts were in New York. However, the court determines the cause of action accrues at the place of injury because of New York’s borrowing statute. Because the plaintiffs were economically injured where they are either incorporated or have their principal place of business, New York will apply the lesser period of those states. Thus, the statute of limitations had expired.

Public Policy

Each jurisdiction handles public policy differently. For instance, public policy in the modern approaches already consider public policy and therefore there is no need to conduct an additional analysis.


Paul v. National Life

352 S.E.2d 550 (W. Va. 1986).


Whether West Virginia or Indiana law will apply. Whether West Virginia would adopt one of the modern approaches to conflicts.

Conflict: Indiana has a guest statute limiting recovery—unless there is a showing of willful and wanton negligence—while West Virginia does not.


West Virginia will maintain the First Restatement approach of focusing on the law of the place of the wrong unless application is a violation of public policy.


The decedents were traveling from West Virginia to Indiana when they were involved in a crash in Indiana which cost both women their lives. The estate of Ms. Paul is bringing this lawsuit against the estate of the driver and National Life.


Here, the court recognizes the inadequacies of the First Restatement (sometimes resulting in unfair results) but also criticizes the modern approaches as an excuse for the courts to do whatever they want. Rather than have the uncertainty, this court continued to utilize the first restatement approach which says “apply the place of injury unless application would be a violation of the forum’s public policy.”

Presently, the court says that applying Indiana’s law would be a violation of West Virginia public policy because West Virginia has never had a guest statute. Thus, West Virginia has a strong public policy to allow those who are injured to recover, regardless of the situation.

Statutory Problems

Only two states use statutory resolutions of choice of law problems: Louisiana and Oregon

Salavarria v. National Car Rental System, Inc.

705 So. 2d 809 (La. App. 4th Dist. 1998).


Conflict: Louisiana would not allow for vicarious liability for unauthorized drivers and would thus enforce the contract while Florida works the other way.


Apply Louisiana law


Plaintiffs are in Louisiana, it is the forum, and it is where the accident occurred. However, the defendant is in Florida which is also where the contract was signed. The contract prevents unauthorized drivers from driving the car. Here, the plaintiffs had an unauthorized driver when the accident occurred.


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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